The One Page Poetry Circle was scheduled to meet on May 12th to discuss Poetry and Joy. In this time of fear, sadness, and uncertainty, poetry seems more important than ever. Poetry is a way of connecting on many levels with the thoughts and feelings of others. It is a triumph of the best aspects of humans over all else, a meeting of minds between the poet and the reader who tries to find meaning from the past. In sharing poetry, we are connecting with a tradition of poetry and also with the present—with you. We are grateful that you shared the following poems with us, bringing the total to 1219 poems we have shared with each other to date.

Abigail thought of William Wordsworth’s “She dwelt among the untrodden ways” because the understated response to Lucy’s death surprises the reader and somehow the unexpectedness brings great pleasure if not joy, “But she is in her Grave, and, oh,/The difference to me!”

Roger found “Joy and Sorrow Chapter VIII” by Khalil Gibran, which reminds him of the way that joy and sorrow are intertwined, “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain./Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?”

Hazel sent Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “The Rhodora: On being asked, whence is the flower?” because seeing flowers brings her some joy. Emerson answers his question why the flower is hidden away by concluding, “The self-same Power that brought me there brought you.”

Gail was reminded of Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 29: When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes” because it is repeated twice in a film she recently saw, All is True. The speaker asserts the power of love when “I all alone beweep my outcast state”: “For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings/That then I scorn to change my state with kings.” Gail has set herself the

task of memorizing poems, this being one of them.

Ellen sent Mary Oliver’s “The Sweetness of Dogs” with its lovely last lines expressing the joy that a dog can give to its owner: “Percy, meanwhile,/leans against me and gazes up/into my face. As though I were just as wonderful as the perfect moon.”

Susan presented “Last Love” by Fyodor Tyutchev which represents joy and sadness so beautifully, “O last belated love, thou art/a blend of joy and hopeless surrender.”

Karen shared a favorite, “First Lesson” by Philip Booth: “lie gently and wide to the light-year/stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.”

Carol found that Emily Dickinson’s “How happy is the little Stone” did the trick by showing the happiness of a simple, common object: “Fulfilling absolute Decree/In casual simplicity—.”

Kai loves the portrayal of the universality of happiness, its unexpected arrival and its transformational power in Jane Kenyon’s “Happiness,” There’s just no accounting for happiness,/or the way it turns up like a prodigal/who comes back to the dust at your feet/having squandered a fortune far away.”

Cate finds joy in the emerging identity and the visual, corporal, and melodic simplicity of “A Name” by Ada Limón: “When Eve walked among/the animals and named them…I wonder if she ever wanted/them to speak back.”

Susan enjoys the focus on the everyday when simple chores give satisfaction, ever joy, in Jane Kenyon’s “The Clothes Pin”: “How much better it is/to carry wood to the fire/than to moan about your life.”

AnnaLee completes  the circle with “There Are Birds Here” by Jamaal May: “The birds are here/to root around for bread/the girl’s hands tear/and toss like confetti.” Though the poem is not about literal birds, she was drawn to it after feeling joy upon glimpsing her first hummingbird of the season.

When joy has gone missing, seek it in poetry that inspires us to be hopeful in times of uncertainty and loss.

Have a wonderful summer and we will see you in the fall. Although we do not yet have dates or topics, we are determined to keep the One Page Poetry Circle going. In the meantime, blog with us at Don’t be shy.

Abigail Burnham Bloom and AnnaLee Wilson

The One Page Poetry Circle is sponsored by the New York Public Library which is currently closed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Welcome to the One Page Poetry Circle! The theme for May is Poetry and Joy. 

Our next theme is Poetry and Joy! We began this season with Poetry that Makes You Cry and we want to leave you with poetry that bring you joy. We can all use as much joy in our lives as possible at this difficult time.

Please note that the NYPL is closed due to the ongoing public health crisis. However, we ask you to send us the poems you have selected on the subject of Poetry and Joy, with a comment on why you chose them. We’ll share the poems with you through this blog and by email in May.

Whenever she sees a rainbow, Abigail thinks of William Wordsworth’s expression of joy in the repetition of the experience:

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

AnnaLee offers Robert Frost’s “A Considerable Speck” in which the author discovers a mite on a fresh sheet of paper when he is about to compose a poem. His first instinct is to kill it, but in these last lines the poet reconsiders:

I have a mind myself and recognize
Mind when I meet with it in any guise
No one can know how glad I am to find
On any sheet the least display of mind.

Whether a poem brings you joy because of its content, or its associations, or the poem concerns happiness, choose a poem that has meaning to you. Then email it to one of us by May 12, with a comment of why you chose it. We look forward to the poems you send us on the subject of Poetry and Joy. We’ll compile them, along with your comments, and share them through this blog and email in May.

Can’t locate a poem you want to send? Browse the poetry section at the library or check out Poetry Foundation or In the meantime, please blog with us here at

Everyone, stay safe! See you in the fall!

~Abigail Burnham Bloom,
~AnnaLee Wilson,


Welcome to the One Page Poetry Circle! We collected the poems you sent for the April 14th program on Poetry and Satire.

Abigail thought of Arthur Hugh Clough’s “http://The Last Decalogue” that rewrites the Ten Commandments for the Victorian era and could certainly apply today: “Bear not false witness; let the lie/Have time on its own wings to fly:/Thou shalt not covet; but tradition/Approves all forms of competition.”

Roger discovered ” http://The Hero” by Siegfried Sassoon, wherein a mother is told her soldier son is a hero, when in reality he tried to get hurt in order to get sent home; instead, he died: “Blown to small bits. And no one seemed to care/Except that lonely woman with white hair.”

Carla, reminds us that April was poetry month, and sent “The Tale of Custard the Dragon” by Ogden Nash in which a kitten, a mouse, a dog, and a cowardly dragon encounter a pirate. While the rest flee in terror, Custard, “With a clatter and a clank and a jangling squirm/He went at the pirate like a robin at a worm.” This poem, that Carla kept in her pocket for years, wonderfully suggests how we can be mislabeled and behave differently than anyone would anticipate.

Ellen thought of “Bassoon” from People of Note by Laurence McKinney and illustrated by Gluyas Williams, a book which was left to her by her father, a bassoonist. The poem claims that it was not the Ancient Mariner “That spoiled his day and changed his tune” of the Wedding Guest, “Ah, no, — ‘he heard the loud BASSOON.’”

Gail proposed “Imaginary Countries: The Real World” by Michael Sharkey, with its use of famous artists, “wielding the best-known characteristic of their works as modifiers”: “And while we watch Magritte’s sky turn El Greco,/roofs de Chirico beneath the plastic clouds,/a plane is pasted on a sudden patch of blue.”

Cate was intrigued by the satirization of the hypocrisy of standard social interaction in Carolyn Kizer’s “Bitch.” The protagonist “uses the metaphor of a female dog to characterize her deepest and varied feelings about her former relationship”: “Now, when he and I meet, after all these years,/I say to the bitch inside me, don’t start growling.”

Christiana chose “Little Jack Horner” by Mother Goose because this “satire reflects timeless segments of society and politics”: “He put in his thumb,/And pulled out a plum,/And said, ‘What a good boy am I!’”

Barbara sent “In Westminster Abbey” by John Betjeman, which seems “appropriate now as we shelter from coronavirus, as an expression of one person’s (inadequate) participation in a wider social cause”: “But, gracious Lord, whate’er shall be,/Don’t let anyone bomb me.”

Katherine found e.e. cummings’s “Ballad of an Intellectual” reminiscent “of the under belly of the eager and noble pursuit of knowledge within ivy towers”: “It’s the social system,it isn’t me!/Not I am a fake,but America’s phoney!/Not I am no artist,but Art’s bologney!” We forgot to add Katherine’s suggestion for last month, Dog Songs by Mary Oliver, “each poem opens a door that is a portal into a universe of reflections, feelings and resonances.”

Carol was struck by how appropriate Kelly Crenshaw’s 2014 prose poem, “Cyber real” is today: “I want to touch life and hold on tight I want to unblock true friends And ‘like’ real sights. I want conversation face to face In real world time In a real world place.”

Stan reports that he is reading Juvenal, a great Roman satirist, “who I haven’t read since I learned Latin at school!” And this is what we love about having a theme for our meetings: it brings us back to poetry we have read and allows us to encounter poems we have not met before.

AnnaLee chose “Introduction” by Alice Duer Miller. The poem’s third line became a slogan of the women’s suffrage movement:

Father, what is a Legislature?
A representative body elected by the people of the state.
Are women people?
No, my son, criminals, lunatics and women are not people.
Do legislators legislate for nothing?
Oh, no; they are paid a salary.
By whom?
By the people.
Are women people?
Of course, my son, just as much as men are.

If you would like to discuss any of these, or think of another poem you’d like to share on the subject or Poetry and Satire, please post or link it to this blog. Include a few words about why you liked it.

~Abigail Burnham Bloom and AnnaLee Wilson


Welcome to the One Page Poetry Circle from the St. Agnes Branch Library! where people share and examine the works of established poets. Once a month OPPC gives everyone a chance to become teachers and learners to explore the form, content, language and meaning of poetry.

Find a poem! Share a poem! Discuss a poem! Our theme for April is Poetry and Satire. The Romans are credited with inventing satire, which exposes common human follies and vices for all to recognize, laugh at, and scorn. Poetry with its brevity of form is especially effective at this. The lyricist and pianist Tom Lehrer parodies a sentimental old favorite: “I wanna go back to Dixie/Take me back to dear ol’ Dixie/That’s the only li’l ol’ place for li’l ol’ me/Ol’ times there are not forgotten/Whuppin’ slaves and sellin cotton.”

The poet Dorothy Parker, celebrated for her short biting lines makes a sly comment on the popular myth about relationships between men and women in her poem “Interview”:

The ladies men admire, I’ve heard,
Would shudder at a wicked word.
Their candle gives a single light;
They’d rather stay at home at night.
They do not keep awake till three,
Nor read erotic poetry.
They never sanction the impure,
Nor recognize an overture.
They shrink from powders and from paints …
So far, I’ve had no complaints.

Please note that the NYPL has closed all its branches and suspended all its programs due to the ongoing Covid-19 public health crisis. However, we ask you to send us the poems you have selected on the subject of Poetry and Satire, with a comment on why you chose them. We’ll share the poems with you through this blog, and by email. We look forward to sharing poetry with you on April 14.

In the meantime, stay safe, and please blog with us here on all poetry subjects and share a poem at

~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 One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library!

On March 10th we met to discuss Poetry and Muses.

AnnaLee opened the circle by reading Abigail’s selection, “The Serving Maid,” by Arthur Joseph Munby, in which the author becomes entranced by his muse, a lower class working woman: “When you go out at early morn,/Your busy hands, sweet drudge, are bare;/For you must work, and none are there/To see with scorn—to feel with scorn.”

Cate chose the poet Marge Piercy’s “To be of use,” in which the poet admires those who gain fulfillment from using their skills: “The people I love the best/jump into work head first/without dallying in the shallows/and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.”

Gail chose “A Sonnet to the Noble Lady, the Lady Mary Wroth” by the 17th century poet Ben Jonson, in which he pays his muse tribute: “Since I exscribe your sonnets, am become/A better lover, and much better poet.”

Jan read Ross Gay’s “Sorrow Is Not My Name,” with these beautiful lines: “there are, on this planet alone, something like two/million naturally occurring sweet things,/some with names so generous as to kick/the steel from my knees: agave, persimmon,/stick ball, the purple okra I bought for two bucks.”

Pat read “I Hear America Singing” by Walt Whitman, in which the poet is inspired by both unum and pluribus: “Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,/The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,/Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.”

Stan followed aptly with “Dreams,” by Langston Hughes, whose poetry was inspired by Whitman, among others: “Hold fast to dreams/For if dreams die/Life is a broken-winged bird/That cannot fly.”

Daria read “Do Not Grieve Your Muse,” by K. P. Nunez, in which the poet reminds her younger self: “You have forgotten your muse./You neglected her, in the hustle and bustle/of city life, in trying to carve a niche,/driving yourself too hard -/thinking it could make you rich.”

AnnaLee brought us full circle with Meena Alexander’s “Muse,” who instructs the poet: “Write in the light/of all the languages/you know the earth contains,/you murmur in my ear./This is pure transport.”

Roger couldn’t be there, but had planned to read “The Muse Who Came to Stay” by Erica Jong: “The others began & ended with a wish,/or a glance or a kiss between stanzas;/the others strode away in the pointed boots of their fear.” Carol thought of John Lennon’s “I Sat Belonely” in which the narrator thinks he sees a lady, then realizes it is a pig, and then “To my surprise the lady,/got up – and flew away.” Kai examined seven different translations of the start of The Iliad—the idea of the muse varied in each one.

As I am sure you all know, the NYPL is closed due to the ongoing public health crisis due to Covid-19. We’ll keep you posted on their decisions going forward. For the April One Page Poetry Circle, we will ask you to send us your poems with a comment on why you chose them, so that we can share them by email and through this blog.

In the meantime, please blog with us here at

Spring 2020 Schedule for sharing poems
April 14, Poetry and Satire
May 12, Poetry and Joy

Be well and be safe

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 One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library, NYC, where people gather to examine the works of established poets.

Our theme for March is Poetry and Muses.

In Greek mythology the muses were nine goddesses, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who presided over the arts and sciences. Homer begins his epic poem, The Iliad, with an invocation to the Muse: “Sing, Goddess, sing the rage of Achilles, son of Peleus.”

In the poetic tradition of Homer and Virgil, Dante Alighieri evokes the nine classical muses early in his epic poem The Divine Comedy “O Muses, O lofty genius, aid me now!” Later in the poem, Dante calls forth his more earthly muse—a childhood acquaintance, Beatrice Portinari. Employing them all, Dante takes readers through hell, purgatory, and finally heaven.

Although Homer sought Calliope, the Muse of the Epic, to inspire him, and Dante introduced an earthly love, poets today are more likely to be inspired by their world. Anything can act as a muse: people, places, or other poems. Poet Kiki Petrosino has Robert Redford. Allen Ginsberg had Peter Orlovsky, and sometimes Neal Cassady. Poet Paul Legault has the poetry of Emily Dickinson. The word “muse” can also mean to ponder; often it is not inspiration that creates a poem, but the deep thoughts and labor of the author.

We hope you will blog with us here, on the subject of Poetry and Muses, or on any other poetry you love. Does anyone know of a poet who has a pet as his or her muse?

Spring 2020 Schedule
March 10, Poetry and Muses
April 14, Poetry and Satire
May 12, Poetry and Joy

Programs are held at St. Agnes Branch of NYPL, 5:30- 6:30 pm, 444 Amsterdam Avenue, NYC.

~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 One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library,
444 Amsterdam Avenue, NYC.

The One Page Poetry Circle met on February 11, to discuss Poetry that Makes You Cry.

Abigail opened the circle with Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “Tears, Idle Tears,” which combines images from the present with memories from the past: “Tears from the depth of some divine despair/Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,/In looking on the happy Autumn-fields,/And thinking of the days that are no more.”

Roger read “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep” by Mary Elizabeth Frye, a commemoration of victims of the Holocaust: “I am the soft stars that shine at night./Do not stand at my grave and cry;/I am not there. I did not die.”

Hazel read Philip Freneau’s “The Wild Honey Suckle” which compares human life to that of the flower: “For when you die you are the same;/The space between, is but an hour,/the frail duration of a flower.”

Cate read Miguel Hernandez’s devastating description of civilian life in “War”: “Incurable hatred./And children?/In the coffin.”

Gail read “Funeral Blues” by W. H. Auden, wherein a light-hearted tone gives way to devastation while recounting a loss: “Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;/For nothing now can ever come to any good.”

Pat had brought the same poem as Gail, so read instead the “Peace Prayer of Saint Francis,” a poem of unknown origins, but powerful thoughts: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace./Where there is hatred, let me bring love.”

Chris read “An Irish Airman foresees his Death” by William Butler Yeats describing the fatalistic approach of an Irishman flying for the British: “I know that I shall meet my fate/Somewhere among the clouds above;/Those that I fight I do not hate,/Those that I guard I do not love.”

Katherine read “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden, where a child describes his father’s once unappreciated acts of love for his family: “What did I know, what did I know/of love’s austere and lonely offices?”

Karen, who had brought the same poem as Roger, read from an essay by Thomas Lynch in The Depositions on our affinity for poetry: “We are drawn to the acoustic pleasures of poetry by nature and metabolism. Our hearts beat in iambs and trochees night and day. Our breath is caught between inspiration and expiration.”

Carol read Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s lyrics “Golden Slumbers” as we heard the haunting melody in our heads: “Once there was a way/To get back homeward.”

Daria could not attend, but left her poem for us, an evocation of a youthful suicide, “1983” by Gary R. Hess which ends: “His life then taken from a bloody blade/His mind at peace with his thoughts/His hope had died with the angels.”

AnnaLee closed the circle with Charles Bukowski’s “I made a mistake,” which begins with the narrator’s admission of his mistake: “I reached up into the top of the closet/and took out a pair of blue panties/and showed them to her and/asked ‘are these yours?’” and ends with the result: “a confused old man driving in the rain/wondering where the good luck/went.”

Kai could not attend, but suggested “I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day” by Gerard Manley Hopkins: “What hours, O what black hours we have spent/This night! what sights you, heart, saw; ways you went!”

We’re looking forward to seeing you for Poetry and Muses at the March 10th One Page Poetry Circle. Whether a poem mentions its inspiration or is about inspiration, bring a poem that inspires you. And if you can, come with copies for others to share. In the meantime, please blog with us here about these poems or others that interest you at

Spring 2020 Schedule
March 10, Poetry and Muses
April 14, Poetry and Satire
May 12, Poetry and Joy

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 One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library!

February’s theme is Poetry that Makes You Cry. According to British neuroscientist Michael Trimble, the ability to cry for emotional reasons and in response to aesthetic experiences is unique to humans. Poetry bridges both categories. With its brevity of words, cadence, and juxtapositions, poetry can escalate our emotions and bring us to tears. We may turn to poetry when we are distraught, feel compassion, face mortality, or experience joy. Ernest Dowson’s “Vitae Summa Brevis” sums up the beauty and sadness of life in two verses:

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes

With its sheer beauty of language, poetry can bypass the intellect to reach our more primal emotions, as in these opening lines of W. H. Auden’s “Lullaby”:

Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.

Perhaps a poem makes you cry because it was the favorite of someone you loved. Or perhaps it doesn’t make you actually cry, as in William Wordsworth “Ode: Intimations of Immortality,” “To me the meanest flower that blows can give/Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.”

If you have a favorite poem that causes you to well up from the beauty of the language, an association, or the message? post it here at Let us know why it moves you.

Poetry that Makes You Cry: Find a poem! Show up! Read a poem! Discuss a poem!
Tues., Feb, 11, 2020, 5:30 – 6:30 pm, St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Ave, NYC

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.

Spring 2020 Schedule
February 11, Poetry that Makes You Cry
March 10, Poetry and Muses
April 14, Poetry and Satire
May 12, Poetry and Joy

~Abigail Burnham Bloom and AnnaLee Wilson


The One Page Poetry Circle at the St. Agnes Branch of the New York Public Library concluded its 2019 fall season on December 10 with a great turnout for the exploration of Poetry and Confession.

Abigail opened the circle with Robert Browning’s “Confessions,” in which a priest asks a dying man for his confession and the man reminisces without remorse on an affair of his youth: “How sad and bad and mad it was—/But then, how it was sweet!”.

Roger read Pablo Neruda’s “If You Forget Me” in which the narrator expounds upon the reciprocal nature of love: “if little by little you stop loving me/I shall stop loving you little by little.”

Hazel read Christina Rossetti’s “Winter: My Secret,” in which the narrator never makes her confession: “You want to hear it? well:/Only my secret’s mine, and I won’t tell.”

Elizabeth read Joan Larkin’s “Afterlife” concerning a young girl whose father forgives her when he says “Kids get into trouble” and goes with her to get an abortion even though he admonishes her, “Don’t ever tell this to anyone.”

Gail read Chard deNiord’s “Confession of a Bird Watcher” where the narrator enjoys watching birds out his window despite seeing hundreds of birds break their necks: “I’m sorry for my genius as the creature inside/who attracts with seeds and watches you die against the window/I’ve built with the knowledge of its danger to you.”

Cate read Jane Clarke’s “The trouble” about the relationship between mothers and daughters: “how to forgive/the one to whom/you owe too much … and cannot, will not/leave you alone.” You can hear Jane Clarke read her poetry here.

Pat read John Berryman’s “Dream Song 14,” which begins: “Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so./After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,/we ourselves flash and yearn.”

Karen read Billy Collins’s complaint about his students in “Introduction to Poetry”: “I ask them to take a poem/and hold it up to the light/like a color slide” but “they begin beating it with a hose/to find out what it really means.”

Carol read “Skunk Hour” by Robert Lowell which describes a town devoid of people: “I hear/my ill-spirit sob in each blood cell,/as if my hand were at its throat…./I myself am hell;/nobody’s here—.”

AnnaLee closed the circle with another John Berryman poem, “Sonnet 13,” which begins: “I lift—lift you five States away your glass,” and ends, “I blow my short ash red,/Grey eyes light! and we have our drink together.”

Daria, our resident librarian, had to leave before the circle began, but left “The Last Slice” by Freddie Robinson Jr. in which the provider of the pizza wants to hear a confession from whoever ate the last slice; then he sees the dog, “Is that pizza sauce I see all over your paws!”.

Kai couldn’t attend, but suggested Anne Sexton’s “Admonitions to a Special Person”: “To love another is something/like prayer and can’t be planned, you just fall/into its arms because your belief undoes your disbelief.”

Enjoy the holidays! We look forward to seeing you in 2020. In the meantime please blog with us here, about all things poetry at

Upcoming Spring 2020 Schedule
February 11, Poetry that Makes You Cry
March 10, Poetry and Muses
April 14, Poetry and Satire
May 12, Poetry and Joy

~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 One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library! Our theme for December 10th is Confessional Poetry. Poetry has always been confessional in that a poet can write things that he might not say in conversation. A style of Confessional Poetry emerged during the 1950s and 60s as practiced by poets like Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, John Berryman, Allen Ginsberg and W. D. Snodgrass. Contemporary poets, like Marie Howe and Sharon Olds, have continued this tradition. These authors write openly about trauma in their lives, detailing their depression, sexuality, and their fraught relationships with other people, often within a framework of larger social themes. “Almost the whole problem of writing poetry is to bring it back to what you really feel,” wrote Robert Lowell in the Paris Review.

But confessional poetry existed long before. One of the earliest English poems (dating from around 900),“The Wife’s Lament,” appears to be a confessional poem by a woman exploring her feelings of isolation and despair:

I make this song of myself, deeply sorrowing,
my own life’s journey. I am able to tell
all the hardships I’ve suffered since I grew up,
but new or old, never worse than now –
ever I suffer the torment of my exile.

A Poetry of Confession, influenced by the work of Sylvia Plath, took hold in China when the poet Zhai Yongming published a suite of poems, among them “Abandoned House” from which these lines are taken:

There, the steps are a deep purple
There, the plants are red sunbirds
There, the stones have human faces

I often pass by there
In a variety of nervous postures
I’ve always been feeble come dusk

And that abandoned house shuts its eyes tight
As I stand and stare
Watching rays of daylight slide from its body in agony

Please blog with us here. Share a poem from a published author that deals with confession, is a confession, or even veers away from confession. Tell us why you like it.

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.