Welcome to the Virtual One Page Poetry Circle!

A volunteer Star of Bethlehem casts its shadow.

Date: Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Theme: Shadows

Find a poem! Send a poem by email!

We’re back for the fourteenth fall season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people examine the works of established poets. While there is no instructor and this is not a workshop for personal writing, once a month OPPC gives everyone a place to become teachers and learners to explore the form, content, language and meaning of poetry. Since the circle began, participants have selected and discussed 1304 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

This fall we will continue to gather virtually, by email. We ask you to send us the poems you have selected on the subject of Poetry and Shadows by October 12th, with a comment on why you chose them. We’ll share the poems with you through our blog and by email.

When AnnaLee thinks of shadows the term chiaroscuro, a technique first employed by Italian painters to create depth and volume, comes to mind. In Karen Kenyon’s poem “Chiaroscuro,” each verse reminds the reader how light and shadow are partners that define each other.

The poem begins:

If you want light 
crack the mirror.
Each blade, each sliver
Will become a boat of light.

And ends:

If you want light
go into the blackest night
where little by little 
even the deepest ink
will have its shadow of light.

Abigail remembers from childhood Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem “My Shadow” that begins: “I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,/And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.”

The last verse of this poem combines our theme for October with our theme of wild flowers from last month:

One morning, very early, before the sun was up, 
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup; 
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head, 
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed

In whatever way your poem mentions shadows or reminds you of shadows, email it to one of us by October 12th, with a brief comment on why you chose it. Can’t locate a poem you want to send? Check out Poetry Foundation or poets.org.

In the meantime, please blog with us here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.                                

Fall 2021 Schedule
October 12: Shadows
November 9: Hypocrisy
December 14: Mementos

Abigail Burnham Bloom, abigailburnhambloom@gmail.com
AnnaLee Wilson, annalee@kaeserwilson.com

We had a good response to our call for poetry about wildflowers, and are delighted to offer you this bouquet of poems.

Seaside Goldenrod in Long Island

Abigail, whose favorite flower is the violet, found Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson’s “Sonnet,” a reflection on the wild violets, “the wild, shy kind that spring beneath your feet/In wistful April days, when lovers mate,” as opposed to the violets found in florists’ shops. From the thoughts of violets the narrator is led to remember her “soul’s forgotten gleam.”

Roger discovered Amy Lowell’s “The Garden by Moonlight” and delighted in the looks, smells, and images of flowers that have been tamed as a means of connecting generations: “Ah, Beloved, do you see those orange lilies?/They knew my mother,/But who belonging to me will they know/When I am gone.”

Gail chose “Wild Flowers” by Matthew Vetter which starts: “At fifty-six, having left my mother,/my father buys a motorcycle./I imagine him because it is the son’s sorrowful assignment/to imagine his father.” Gail explains the images of the poem: “The father, a violent man ‘with bad teeth’ whom the narrator conflates with a trampling bull, has abandoned the mother. The mother is first exchanged for a motorcycle, then passed over as ‘an impertinent mare,’ and finally crushed like ‘small wild flowers’ beneath the feet of the ‘snorting and blowing’ bull.”

Hazel sent “The Rhodora” by Ralph Waldo Emerson which “contains one of the all time great lines – I think – in all of poetry”: “Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why/This charm is wasted on the marsh and sky,/Dear, tell them, that if eyes were made for seeing,/Then beauty is its own excuse for being.”

Carol enjoyed Eloisa’s “Just Call Her Wildflower” which ends, “And she took some more steps/to love herself./She doesn’t have a name./she’s a wildflower dancing free.” Carol wrote, “I responded to this one, identifying with this woman. My own life seems to have been tiny steps, learning to love myself. My responses to flowers, to growing vegetables, and ultimately my ideas about native plants—indeed, wildflowers—leads me to gentler, more loving attitudes toward myself and others.”

Steve sent Emily Pauline Johnson’s “Fire-Flowers” written in 1903. “With all the forest fires burning right now this poem seems current.” Steve remarks that fire is used as a metaphor for grief, noting that the wild flowers that bloom afterwards mark the end of such grief.

And only where the forest fires have sped,
Scorching relentlessly the cool north lands,
A sweet wild flower lifts its purple head,
And, like some gentle spirit sorrow-fed,
It hides the scars with almost human hands.

And only to the heart that knows of grief,
Of desolating fire, of human pain,
There comes some purifying sweet belief,
Some fellow-feeling beautiful, if brief.
And life revives, and blossoms once again.

Ken selected Robert Frost’s “Flower Gathering” written in 1912 and published in Frost’s first commercially published book of poetry: “They are yours, and be the measure/Of their worth for you to treasure,/The measure of the little while/That I’ve been long away.” Ken liked this poem because “even a short time away from someone can feel like forever,” adding, “this is especially true in these troubled times when we should cherish every moment we get to spend with those we love.” He notes that the author often wrote about his wife, Elinor, as in this poem.

Scott remembered William Blake’s “Auguries of Innocence”: “To see a World in a Grain of Sand/And a Heaven in a Wild Flower/Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand/And Eternity in an hour.” He writes, “I was looking for a grammatical conclusion to the opening ‘To see.’ Its absence keeps you in a state of anticipation as the list goes on and yet it seems complete, for that world is without end.”

Cate picked “after an illness, walking the dog” by Jane Kenyon, which contains these lines: “When I whistle he halts abruptly/and steps in a circle,/swings his extravagant tail./Then he rolls and rubs his muzzle/in a particular place, while the drizzle/falls without cease, and Queen Anne’s lace/and Goldenrod bend low.” Cate writes, “The poem presents a consummate awareness and relishing of nature… Being in the company of an energetic optimist we experience a heightened sense of being alive while also conscious of mortality.”

Victoria sent “Stanzas for a Sierra Morning” by Robert Hass which begins: “Looking for wildflowers, the white yarrow/With its deep roots for this dry place/And fireweed which likes disturbed ground.” She explains that “the essence of this poem to me is how we live our lives surrounded by the amazing and remarkable gifts of nature’s beauty, but we notice these astonishing gifts only casually, as we go about the business of stumbling through our lives. Yet the beauty is there always, steadily, dazzling in its presence around us, should we chance upon it in a bright and brilliant wildflower.”

AnnaLee chose the Scottish poet Andrew Young’s “The Lady’s Slipper,” which tells of looking for an elusive wild beauty when the author is past his prime. He knows he will never find it again, yet he will keep seeking it as long as he lives. “The poem reminds me of the early June day when I first spotted a pink Lady’s Slipper in the forest around our summer cottage. For years I delighted in discovering these rare orchids that popped up from rotting oak. After pine barren fires drove the deer into our woods, the Lady’s Slippers disappeared, but I keep looking.”

Though I know well enough
To hunt the Lady’s-Slipper now
Is playing blindman’s-buff,
For it was June She put it on
And grey with mist the spider’s laceSwings in the autumn wind,
Yet through this hill-wood, high and low,
I peer in every place;
Seeking for what I cannot find
I do as I have often done
And shall do while I stay beneath the sun.

Look for our next post and call for poems about shadows. In the meantime, please blog with us here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.                                

Fall 2021 Schedule
October 12: Shadows
November 9: Hypocrisy
December 14: Mementos

Abigail Burnham Bloom, abigailburnhambloom@gmail.com
AnnaLee Wilson, annalee@kaeserwilson.com

Date: Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Theme: Wild Flowers

Find a poem! Send a poem by email!

We’re back for the fourteenth fall season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people examine the works of established poets. While there is no instructor and this is not a workshop for personal writing, once a month OPPC gives everyone a place to become teachers and learners to explore the form, content, language and meaning of poetry. Since the circle began, participants have selected and discussed 1304 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

This fall we will continue to gather virtually, by email. We ask you to send us the poems you have selected on the subject of Poetry and Wild Flowers, with a comment on why you chose them. We’ll share the poems with you through our blog and by email.

We have been reading about the recent movement to conserve and appreciate native plants. Poets have long honored wild flowers in their writing. With such a rich subject, it is difficult to make a selection. Abigail discovered “Wildflowers” by Reginald Gibbons which doesn’t name the flowers but rather the narrator’s associations with them:

Coleridge carefully wrote down a whole page
of them, all beginning with the letter b.
Guidebooks preserve our knowledge
of their hues and shapes, their breeding.
Many poems have made delicate word-chimes—
like wind-chimes not for wind but for the breath of man—
out of their lovely names.
At the edge of the prairie in a cabin
when thunder comes closer to thump the roof hard
a few of them—in a corner, brittle in a dry jar
where a woman’s thoughtful hand left them to fade—
seem to blow the announcing winds outside
as the rain begins to fall on all their supple kin
of all colors, under a sky of one color, or none.

AnnaLee chose Vachel Lindsay’s “The Dandelion,” which refers to this invader from Europe as royalty:  

O dandelion, rich and haughty,
King of village flowers!
Each day is coronation time,
You have no humble hours.
I like to see you bring a troop
To beat the blue-grass spears,
To scorn the lawn-mower that would be
Like fate’s triumphant shears.
Your yellow heads are cut away,
It seems your reign is o’er.
By noon you raise a sea of stars
More golden than before.

Whether a poem speaks of wild flowers, flowers, or the wild in any way, email it to one of us by September 14th, with a brief comment on why you chose it. Can’t locate a poem you want to send? Check out Poetry Foundation or poets.org.

We enjoyed this article in the New York Times on reading the same poem every day for a month: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/17/magazine/poetry-repetition.html

In the meantime, please blog with us here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.                                

Fall 2021 Schedule
September 14: Wild Flowers
October 12: Shadows
November 9: Hypocrisy
December 14: Mementos

Abigail Burnham Bloom, abigailburnhambloom@gmail.com
AnnaLee Wilson, annalee@kaeserwilson.com

The topic for the One Page Poetry Circle on May 11th was Poetry and Freedom.

When Abigail thinks of freedom, she hears Janis Joplin singing, “Me and Bobby McGee” with its lines, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose/Nothing, and that’s all that Bobby left me/Feeling good was easy Lord, when he sang the blues/You know feeling good was good enough for me.” Kris Kristofferson wrote “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” after viewing the film La Strada with Anthony Quinn and Giulietta Masina, and considered “the two-edged sword that freedom is. He was free when he left the girl, but it destroyed him.”

Roger offered Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” because he loved the descriptions of the contrast between the caged bird and the free bird: “The caged bird sings/with a fearful trill/of things unknown/but longed for still/and his tune is heard/on the distant hill/for the caged bird/sings of freedom.”

Gail sent “Freedom” by Oliver Runner, a short poem that ends: “I care not whither/My feet may lead, for my spirit shall be/Free as the brook that flows to the river,/Free as the river that flows to the sea.” She commented that “this simple eight-line poem evokes the joyful freedom of taking a walk in a natural setting on a perfect day. The poet’s lovely, apt name seems to become a part of the poem itself.”

Susan liked “Wild Swans” by Edna St. Vincent Millay. “This short poem describes Millay’s desperate yearning for freedom, which the wild swans beautifully represent. She feels trapped in herself and her introspection, and stuck in her house. I identify with her feelings. During this last year many of us have been literally trapped in our homes due to Covid or fear of it. Our longing for freedom and beauty is stronger than ever.”

I looked in my heart while the wild swans went over.
And what did I see I had not seen before?
Only a question less or a question more;
Nothing to match the flight of wild birds flying.
Tiresome heart, forever living and dying,
House without air, I leave you and lock your door.
Wild swans, come over town, come over
The town again, trailing your legs and crying!

Hazel shared Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Concord Hymn,” which “was sung at the completion of the Battle Monument on July 4, 1837. Reference to the willingness of heroes to die to leave their children free is the Freedom that we are honoring today.” The poem begins, “By the rude bridge that arched the flood,/Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,/Here once the embattled farmers stood/And fired the shot heard round the world.”

Christiana sent “A Single Woman’s Bedroom” by Yi Lei (1952-2018), who wrote in Chinese and became more widely known in the 1980s. Christiana writes “The entire poem deals with the freedom thrust upon her by a no-show lover. Tracy K. Smith, poet and translator, met Lei in New York’s Chinatown, and in Beijing. She gave Smith notes on her first attempt at translating this stanza to emphasize the aspect of freedom being referenced, explaining that Li was talking about an essential concept, not just romantic love. Although I know no Chinese, as a reader, I believe that Smith’s translation is successful at communicating both the poem’s meanings and the poems poetry. I like to think that ‘thought’ is a freedom, or can be, and selected stanza #13 ‘Thinking’ from her poem to reflect this.”

I spend all my spare time doing it.
I give it a name: walking indoors.
I imagine a life in which I possess
All that I lack. I fix what has failed.
What never was, I build and seize.
It’s impossible to think of everything,
Yet more and more I do. Thinking
What I am afraid to say keeps fear
And fear’s twin, rage, at bay. Law
Squints out from its burrow, jams
Its quiver with arrows. It shoots
Like it thinks: never straight. My thoughts
Escape. One day, they’ll emigrate
To a kingdom far-off and heady.
My visa’s in-process, though like anyone,
I worry it’s overpopulated already
You didn’t come to live with me.

Steve wrote “At this time of year seeing the buds on the trees out our windows, I always think of Chaucer’s Prologue to The Canterbury Tales—the only thing I remember from English class at Indiana University. The first four lines are the ones that come to mind and make me feel spring” and a sense of freedom: “Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,/The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,/And bathed every veyne in swich licóur/Of which vertú engendred is the flour.”

Scott “will never forget sitting around the poker table in the back room of the Oxford Café in Missoula, Montana and hearing my unlettered comrades rattling off line after line of Robert Service. In “Freedom’s Fool” Service celebrates not the freedom that a government guarantees, but the freedom of a natural man without government: “The laws of Nature and of God/Are good enough for guys like me,/Who scorn to kiss the scarlet rod/Of office and authority.” Scott adds, that “To hell with government has unhappy connotations today.”

Cate sent “The Window, at the Moment of Flame” by the poet Alicia Ostriker who writes poetry and criticism on themes of family, social justice, Jewish identity, and personal growth. “This poem, for me,” writes Cate, “is a very direct question about ‘let us say’ America’s freedom and its value. How simply, and not so subtly, the author questions our culpability or, at best, insensitivity.”

And all this while I have been playing with toys
A toy power station a toy automobile a house of blocks
And all this while far off in other lands
Thousands and thousands, millions and millions–
You know–you see the pictures
Women carrying their bony infants
Men sobbing over graves
Buildings sculpted by explosion
Earth wasted bare and rotten–
And all this while I have been shopping, I have
Been let us say free
And do they hate me for it
Do they hate me

Carol sent “Freedom of Choice” by Scarlet…. “I choose a pen/so I may write it all/and it will be there for all who choose to read,” and wrote, “This poem struck me personally: I had been guided into fine arts as a child, told one of my sisters was an actor/dancer, the other was the writer. It took me many years to ‘choose’ to move beyond painting and drawing—arts that made me feel silenced—to attempt writing, following years of public speaking roles.”

Victoria wrote that “The Dry Salvages,” the third of T. S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets,” “is one of the ultimate poems about freedom, even though it’s not about ‘freedom’ per se”: “The river is within us, the sea is all about us;/The sea is the land’s edge also, the granite/Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses/Its hints of earlier and other creation … The sea has many voices,/Many gods and many voices.”

AnnaLee chose Emily Dickinson’s “No Rack can torture me–.” “I mulled over this poem, especially the enigmatic ending: ‘Except Thyself may be/Thine Enemy—/Captivity is Consciousness/So’s Liberty.’ In reading about liberty and captivity, I came across an anecdote that, for me, shed light on Dickinson’s thinking. In Adrienne Rich’s essay on Dickinson, “Vesuvius at Home,” the poet’s niece Martha tells a story of visiting her in her corner room, and how her aunt made the motion of locking the door with an imaginary key, then said, ‘Matty: here’s freedom.’”

Have a wonderful summer and we will see you (one way or another) in the fall. In the meantime, blog with us here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com. Don’t be shy.

Abigail Burnham Bloom and
AnnaLee Wilson

The One Page Poetry Circle is sponsored by the New York Public Library and is open to all. St. Agnes Branch Library is handicap accessible.

Welcome to the Virtual One Page Poetry Circle!

Date: Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Theme: Poetry and Freedom

Find a poem! Send a poem by email!

We’re back for the thirteenth spring season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people examine the works of established poets. While there is no instructor and this is not a workshop for personal writing, once a month OPPC gives everyone a place to become teachers and learners to explore the form, content, language and meaning of poetry. Since the circle began, participants have selected and discussed 1301 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

This spring we will gather virtually, by email. We ask you to send us the poems you have selected on the subject of Poetry and Freedom by May 11th, with a comment on why you chose them. Send them to one of the email addresses below with the subject line: Poem for Poetry and Freedom. We’ll share the poems with you through this blog and by email.

Our theme for May is Freedom.

William Wordsworth’s poem celebrates restriction, revealing the pleasure of confinement not only in his argument, but also in the form of the sonnet:

Nuns fret not at their Convent’s narrow room;
And Hermits are contented with their Cells;
And Students with their pensive Citadels;
Maids at the Wheel, the Weaver at his Loom,
Sit blithe and happy; Bees that soar for bloom,
High as the highest peak of Furness-Fells,
Will murmur by the hour in Foxglove bells:
In truth the prison, in which we doom
Ourselves, no prison is: and hence for me,
In sundry moods, ‘twas pastime to be found
Within the Sonnet’s scanty plot of ground;
Pleased if some Souls (for such there needs must be)
Who have felt the weight of too much liberty,
Should find brief solace there, as I have found.

Langston Hughes’s poem “Freedom” reminds us, in deceptively plain language, that America’s greatest promise of freedom and equality for all its people must be kept immediately. “Freedom/Is a strong seed/Planted/In a great need.”:  

Freedom will not come
Today, this year
Nor ever
Through compromise and fear.
I have as much right
As the other fellow has
To stand
On my two feet
And own the land.

I tire so of hearing people say,
Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I’m dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread.
Freedom
Is a strong seed
Planted
In a great need.
I live here, too.
I want my freedom
Just as you. 

Whether a poem is about freedom or independence or free expression, or abandon choose a poem that has meaning to you. Then email it to one of us by May 11th, with a brief comment of why you chose it. Can’t locate a poem you want to send? Check out Poetry Foundation or poets.org.

In the meantime, please blog with us here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.                                

Spring 2021 Schedule
May 11: Freedom

Abigail Burnham Bloom, abigailburnhambloom@gmail.com
AnnaLee Wilson, annalee@kaeserwilson.com

Welcome to the Virtual One Page Poetry Circle!

We’re back for the thirteenth spring season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people examine the works of established poets. Since the circle began, participants have selected and discussed 1301 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

Our theme for April was Poetry and Seeds.

Abigail read “That New” by Susan Rothbard, in which her husband buys her a new variety of apple, “When he cut it, the star inside/held seeds of others stars, the way within a life are all the lives you might live,/each unnamed, until you name it.” Abigail loved the idea of unknown worlds within the seed.

Roger discovered “Seed-Time and Harvest” by John Greenleaf Whittier, “Now is the seed-time: God alone,/Beyond our vision weak and dim,/Beholds the end of what is sown;/The harvest-time is hid with him,” reminding him to enjoy living every day.

Hazel found “The Seed Shop” by Muriel Stuart which “reminds us of the magic sealed into the tiniest seed”: “Here in a quiet and dusty room they lie,/Faded as crumbled stone or shifting sand,/Forlorn as ashes, shrivelled, scentless, dry -/Meadows and gardens running through my hand.”

Scott sent “The Seed-at-Zero” by Dylan Thomas which begins: “The seed-at-zero shall not storm/That town of ghosts, the trodden womb,/With her rampart to his tapping,/No god-in-hero tumble down.” Scott commented that he has no idea what it is about, but “I like the verses that change only a couple of words—makes you read them carefully.”

Carol chose “Seed” by Kathleen Jessie Raine because after watching Nomadland, “this poem made me think again of the cosmos, the enormity of western rock formations, the Badlands of South Dakota, and the tiny role of human beings in the universe”: “From star to star, from sun and spring and leaf,/And almost audible flowers whose sound is silence,/And in the common meadows, springs the seed of life.”

Gail selected some stanzas from Algernon Charles Swinburne’s “The Garden of Proserpine” : “She waits for all men born;/Forgets the earth her mother,/The life of fruits and corn;/And spring and seed and swallow/Take wing for her and follow.” Gail wrote that she “thought the poem would hew more closely to the myth of springtime renewal, in which Proserpine leaves the underworld to rejoin her mother for part of the year. But no, alas! This poem is far more lugubrious, and Proserpine ‘forgets the earth her mother’ and presides over ‘an eternal night’ of death.”

Cate sent “Redbird Love,” by U.S. poet laureate Joy Harjo. Cate writes, “I so enjoy the consistent anthropomorphizing Harjo does in describing the young redbird and her young behavior. Then, she’s part of a ‘young couple’ that ‘scavenges seeds’ (didn’’t we all have to do that when we were young, with empty pockets?). The male she’s chosen ‘for home’ is so solicitous of his mate, tenderly kissing her ‘with seeds.’ Then, the climax of growth—from one to coupling to the miracle of birth. Harjo, who is also a performing musician, has described her creative process in the following way: ‘I begin with the seed of an emotion, a place, and then move from there…’”

Victoria sent October (section 1) by Louise Glück, “another borderline morbid musing on the inevitable cycle of life and death as foreshadowed by nature”: “didn’t the night end, wasn’t the earth/safe when it was planted/didn’t we plant the seeds,/weren’t we necessary to the earth,/the vines, were they harvested?”

AnnaLee delighted in W. S. Merwin’s “Garden Notes” after sowing the seeds she scavenged from wild plants last fall: “All day in the garden/and at night when I wake to it/at its moment I hear a sound/sometimes little more than a/whisper/of something falling/arriving/fallen/a seed in its early age.”

Whether a poem is about freedom or independence or free expression, choose a poem that has meaning to you. Then email it to one of us by May 11th, with a brief comment of why you chose it. Can’t locate a poem you want to send? Check out Poetry Foundation or poets.org.

In the meantime, if you have a comment about one of these poems, or another poem to share on the theme of Poetry and Seeds, please blog with us here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.                                

Spring 2021 Schedule
May 11: Freedom

Abigail Burnham Bloom, abigailburnhambloom@gmail.com
AnnaLee Wilson, annalee@kaeserwilson.com

Welcome to the Virtual One Page Poetry Circle!
Date: Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Theme: Poetry and Seeds

Find a poem! Send a poem by email!

We’re back for the thirteenth spring season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people examine the works of established poets. While there is no instructor and this is not a workshop for personal writing, once a month OPPC gives everyone a place to become teachers and learners to explore the form, content, language and meaning of poetry. Since the circle began, participants have selected and discussed 1292 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

This spring we will gather virtually, by email. We ask you to send us the poems you have selected on the subject of Poetry and Seeds by April 13th, with a comment on why you chose them. We’ll share the poems with you through our blog and by email.

Our theme for April is Seeds.

The poet Marge Piercy describes her way of writing every day, “little grace notes of thanksgiving and praise and cursing during the day. The little poems of the day are simple, but sometimes in them comes a seed, a flash, that real word that summons real work.” A seed is the start of something, whether it be a poem or a living organism.

William Wordsworth begins the second verse paragraph of his autobiographical epic, The Prelude, with these words, “Fair seed-time had my soul, and I grew up/Foster’d alike by beauty and by fear.” In the poem he recounts those experiences that developed his mind and soul into those of a poet.

Robert Frost’s sonnet “Putting in the Seed” evokes both human sexuality and plants bursting forth in spring:

You come to fetch me from my work to-night
When supper’s on the table, and we’ll see
If I can leave off burying the white
Soft petals fallen from the apple tree.
(Soft petals, yes, but not so barren quite,
Mingled with these, smooth bean and wrinkled pea;)
And go along with you ere you lose sight
Of what you came for and become like me,
Slave to a springtime passion for the earth.
How Love burns through the Putting in the Seed
On through the watching for that early birth
When, just as the soil tarnishes with weed,
The sturdy seedling with arched body comes
Shouldering its way and shedding the earth crumbs.

Whether a poem is about seeds of any sort or the start of something, choose a poem that has meaning to you. Then email it to one of us by April 13th, with a brief comment of why you chose it. Can’t locate a poem you want to send? Check out Poetry Foundation or poets.org.

In the meantime, please blog with us here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.                                

Spring 2021 Schedule
April 13: Seeds
May 11: Freedom

Abigail Burnham Bloom, abigailburnhambloom@gmail.com
AnnaLee Wilson, annalee@kaeserwilson.com

Our theme for March was Poetry and Dirt.

Abigail was thinking of dirt as gossip and remembered Dorothy Parker’s “Ballade of a Talk-Off Ear” with its “L’envoi”: “Prince or commoner, tenor or bass,/Painter or plumber or never-do-well,/Do me a favor and shut your face/Poets alone should kiss and tell.” Why should poets have this privilege? Perhaps because so much of what they say delights us; they “kiss and tell” not for the sensational news, but to render the actual into art.

Roger discovered “I am not Brave” by Dale Cozart which celebrates the beauty and persistence of plants emerging from the soil: “I am not brave like pilgrim bulbs,/though planted fifty years ago,/still sending offspring to the sky/determined in a hostile sphere.”

Scott found Anne Sexton’s “Hurry Up Please, It’s Time” with its lines: “would you put her in a sack and bury her,/suck her down into the dumb dirt?/Some would./If not, time will.” Scott enjoyed the adjective “dumb” applied to dirt, and commented that he was not familiar with Anne Sexton: “I guess that is part of the point of this group—to expose us to new poets and poems with which we are not familiar.” Exactly!

Gail chose “The Air Smelled Dirty” by Marge Piercy “which vividly evokes a memory from her childhood, because I too grew up in a house with a scary unfinished basement (though not a coal-burning furnace)! The delightful word ‘clinker’ means the stony residue from burned coal.” The poet describes how, “The fire glowed like a red eye through/the furnace door and the clinkers fell/loud and the shadows came at me as/mice scampered. The washing machine/was tame but the furnace was always hungry.”

Stan sent Roger McGough’s “Soil” that begins: “we’ve ignored each other for a long time/and I’m strictly an indoor man/anytime to call would be the wrong time/I’ll avoid you as long as I can” and ends with almost the same words. Stan writes that “our relationship with soil changes as we grow older. As adults we might choose to stay indoors or live in a built-up city, so we interact with the soil only a little or not at all, but it’s patiently waiting to commune with us eventually.” Stan adds that the poet McGough hosts BBC Radio 4’s “Poetry Please.” He’s also known in the UK for having been (along with Paul McCartney’s brother Mike) a member of the band The Scaffold. Their hit record “Lily the Pink,” with backing vocals by Elton John, Time Rice, and Graham Nash, topped the music charts in 1968.

Victoria thought of Gary Snyder’s “Nature   Green Shit”: “Why should dirt be dirty when you clean up./stop to like the dead or dying plants,/twisted witherd grass.” She enjoyed that he links his images to specific places that are intimately familiar to him and notices tiny mundane details, “Why should dirt be considered dirty when it produces vegetables, flowers, seeds and grass, which sustain human life and are tended by human hands? The red lump of human flesh is no less dirty or clean that the dirt in which green things grow and die, and where flesh will end up one day as well.”

Hazel remembered Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias” which “concludes with a gripping description of sands, a kind of dirt. It’s amazing what words can do to conjure up unforgettable images”: “Nothing beside remains. Round the decay/Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,/The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Cate sent Francisco Aragón’s “The Hike to Big Fountain: Granada,” a response to the murder of the poet Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936) at the start of the Spanish Civil War—his body was thrown into an unmarked grave: “And no one really knows exactly/where—his final place. Better to ask/the dirt, this infamous patch of Spain.” Cate comments: “In the context of his merciless death, I find the poem’s water imagery powerful. Aside from the cypress, trees that are associated with mourning and immortality, absorbers of memory, the only concrete images connote some violence—the growling, hurling dogs and the cane, perhaps even the occupying Moors. Then, of course, ‘this infamous patch,’ the dirt as mute and dark as its history.”

Jane sent “Map” by Linda Hogan. “This is the map of the forsaken world./This is the world without end/where forests have been cut away from their trees./These are the lines wolf could not pass over.” The poem was featured in a recent poem-a-day podcast, in which upcoming Saturdays in March will be dedicated to poetry that explores Environmental Justice. “Map” was used as inspiration for this year’s theme.

AnnaLee offered Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “Queens Cemetery, Setting Sun,” in which the poet uses New York City to remind us of the gritty layers of lifetimes built upon those who came before, and that all—no matter who or what—will eventually return to earthy origins. The poem begins: “Airport bus from JFK/cruising through Queens/passing huge endless cemetery/by Long Island’s old expressway/(once a dirt path for wheelless Indians).” On February 22, 2021, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet, painter, social activist, and co-founder of City Lights bookstore and press died at 101. Read an interview with him at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2013/01/lawrence-ferlinghetti-interviewed-at-interview

Look for our next post, Poetry and Seeds. And in the meantime, blog with us here

Spring 2021 Schedule
April 13: Seeds
May 11: Freedom

Abigail Burnham Bloom, abigailburnhambloom@gmail.com
AnnaLee Wilson, annalee@kaeserwilson.com

Welcome to the Virtual One Page Poetry Circle!

Date: Tuesday, March 9, 2020
Theme: Poetry and Dirt

Find a poem! Send a poem by email!

We’re back for the thirteenth spring season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people examine the works of established poets. While there is no instructor and this is not a workshop for personal writing, once a month OPPC gives everyone a place to become teachers and learners to explore the form, content, language and meaning of poetry. Since the circle began, participants have selected and discussed 1281 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

This spring we will gather virtually, by email. We ask you to send us the poems you have selected on the subject of Poetry and Dirt by March 9th, with a comment on why you chose them. We’ll share the poems with you through our blog and by email.

Our theme for March is Dirt. John Keats writes about the interconnection of beauty and the natural world in “On the Grasshopper and Cricket,” summarized is its famous first line:

            The Poetry of earth is never dead:
When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
That is the Grasshopper’s—he takes the lead
In summer luxury,—he has never done
With his delights; for when tired out with fun
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
On a lone winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,
And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.

In “Ode to Dirt” the poet Sharon Olds addresses dirt and apologizes for not realizing its stature as an equal and a creator:

Dear dirt, I am sorry I slighted you,
I thought that you were only the background
for the leading characters—the plants
and animals and human animals.
It’s as if I had loved only the stars
and not the sky which gave them space
in which to shine. Subtle, various,
sensitive, you are the skin of our terrain,
you’re our democracy. When I understood
I had never honored you as a living
equal, I was ashamed of myself,
as if I had not recognized
a character who looked so different from me,
but now I can see us all, made of the
same basic materials—
cousins of that first exploding from nothing—
in our intricate equation together. O dirt,
help us find ways to serve your life,
you who have brought us forth, and fed us,
and who at the end will take us in
and rotate with us, and wobble, and orbit.

Whether a poem is about dirt of any kind, choose a poem that has meaning to you. Then email it to one of us by March 9th, with a brief comment of why you chose it. Can’t locate a poem you want to send? Check out Poetry Foundation or poets.org.

In the meantime, please blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.                                

Spring 2021 Schedule
March 9: Dirt
April 13: Seeds
May 11: Freedom

Abigail Burnham Bloom, abigailburnhambloom@gmail.com
AnnaLee Wilson, annalee@kaeserwilson.com

Welcome to the Virtual One Page Poetry Circle!
Our theme for February was Poetry and Healing.

Abigail recalled the healing power of nature established in Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s “The Woodspurge”: “From perfect grief there need not be/Wisdom or even memory:/One thing then learnt remains to me,—/The woodspurge has a cup of three.”

Scott wrote that he heard e.e. cummings give a lecture series at Harvard: “He told mostly autobiographical tales, interspersed with readings of his poems and poems that he loved. One that he chose that has stayed with me is the closing lines of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s ‘Prometheus Unbound.’” The narrator describes that love “from the slippery, steep/And narrow verge of crag-like agony, springs/and folds over the world its healing wings”; the final stanza contains the famous lines, “To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates/From its own wreck the thing it contemplates.”

Roger found “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver which describes the peace of the natural world and our place within it: “Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,/the world offers itself to your imagination,/calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting – /over and over announcing your place/in the family of things.”

Gail sent “Talk” by Kwame Dawes, a poet dedicated to the playwright August Wilson. “His poem speaks directly to the explosive protests for racial justice of the past year. Dawes suggests that first ‘our hearts [must] flow with the warm healing of anger’ before we can ‘learn the healing of talk, the calming of quarrel.’”

Hazel sent “Good Night” by Kürner because she “does believe that sleep is a magical healer of so many things”: “Eden’s breezes round ye sweep./O’er the peace-forsaken lover/Let the darling image hover,/As he lies in transport deep./Sweetly sleep!”

Carol sent Pablo Neruda’s “Keeping Quiet.” With his caution “For once on the face of the earth/let’s not speak in any language,/let’s stop for one second,/and not move our arms so much,” Carol feels he teaches us “to be present in the moment, to listen to the earth, nature, one’s self, to stop the endless churning, the running around with multiple distractions: just what COVID has forced us all to do on one level or another. See how difficult it is to just stand still, count to twelve?”

Christiana sent Walt Whitman’s “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” published in 1867 and printed in its entirety here. “It’s uncanny how appropriate the healing theme is for this February,” she writes. “I am submitting this short Walt Whitman classic that strikes my fancy as relating in its own way to our theme. At this point, I’ve had my fill of hearing the civics and the science, and taking a quiet moment to just look up feels therapeutic to me.”

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Cate introduced us to artist and poet LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs. Her concrete poem, “the originator,” begins: “here’s the remedy for your chronic whiplash –.” Cate wrote, “It’s a villanelle that combines hip hop with a really old structure … there’s hope for reconciliation or understanding or, at the very least, experiencing difference. The jazzy language, and references to expressions of sound, barreling down the villanelle infrastructure are remedial, just as the poem’s first line promises. To feel even better, read it aloud … fast!”

AnnaLee chose Norman Dubie’s “February: The Boy Breughel,” writing, “I am fascinated by the way the poet creates a Breughel painting using words and vivid impressions as his brush.” In these opening lines the natural world hangs in the balance while awaiting spring’s healing sun: “The birches stand in their beggar’s row:/Each poor tree/Has had its wrists nearly/Torn from the clear sleeves of bone,/These icy trees/Are hanging by their thumbs/Under a sun/That will begin to heal them soon.”

Spring 2021 Schedule
March 9: Dirt
April 13: Seeds
May 11: Freedom

Abigail Burnham Bloom, abigailburnhambloom@gmail.com
AnnaLee Wilson, annalee@kaeserwilson.com