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We’re back for the eighth season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people gather to examine the works of established poets. While there’s 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.

We chose the theme of Poetry and Endings not just because December 13 is our last meeting of the year, but also because the last lines of poems have special significance. As 2016 marches toward its end, we give you a stanza from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “In Memoriam” describing the sound of church bells at the end of the year and the hope for what lies ahead after the poet has experienced a particularly difficult year:

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true. 

When we come to the last words of a fine poem we complete a journey. Ex-Poet Laureate Billy Collins relates his satisfaction when finding an ending to a poem, describing the silence that follows a poem’s last word as something new created between the reader and writer. In her poem “Endings” Mona Van Duyn writes that an end “lights up the meaning of the whole work.” Archibald MacLeish’s famous ending to “Ars Poetica” (here in its entirety) has lit up many a literary discussion:

 A Poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit,

Dumb
As old medallions to the thumb,

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown—

A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds.

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs,

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind—

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs.

A poem should be equal to:
Not true.

For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf.

For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea—

A poem should not mean
But be.

Is there an ending of a poem that you have particularly enjoyed? Do you know a poem where the ending surprises because it takes a turn you didn’t expect? Let us know here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Welcome to the One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library!

We met on November 1 to discuss Prose Poems. We loved discussing the difference between poetry and prose and found it to be a thin line indeed.

Abigail opened the circle by reading the first paragraph of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita which begins, “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth.” Nabokov incorporates the images, meter, alliteration, and density of poetry into his prose.

Roger read the words of two great presidents: Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Pearl Harbor Speech” telling the nation about “a date which will live in infamy” and Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.” We found Lincoln’s words to be more like poetry, more evocative with more rhythms and figures of speech as he contrasts the living with “these honored dead.”

Hazel read Antony’s famous funeral oration from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, “My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,/And I must pause till it come back to me.” Clearly written in poetic lines with an iambic pentameter rhythm the words have the sentence structure of a prose speech.

Phil read the beautiful conclusion of Molly Bloom’s soliloquy in James Joyce’s Ulysses: “then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.” Like Nabokov, Joyce was also a poet whose prose is as rich and beautiful as his poetry.

Gail read “Allegory of the Cave” by Stephen Dunn based on Plato’s vision. A man attempts to tell his fellow prisoners what he has learned in the twentieth century but finds himself unable to communicate effectively and eventually, “He just stood here,/confused, a man who had moved/to larger errors, without a prayer.”

Elizabeth read a review from Poetry Magazine by Frederick Seidel of a book of poems by Jonathan Galassi that approached poetry itself, “In the middle of Galassi’s life’s journey, in the middle of the dark woods, the road forked. Galassi had no choice —and chose—and wrote these poems. You have here the music of civilized decency superintending a heart raving and roaring like a lion.”

Eileen read Grace Paley’s “Here” which states with lovely simplicity what life is like for her, “Here I am in the garden laughing/an old woman with heavy breasts/and a nicely mapped face.”

AnnaLee closed the circle by singing a ballad, “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll,” a true story of racial injustice, written in the Civil Rights era by Bob Dylan, winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature. In the final twist of the refrain, “Oh, but you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears/Bury the rag deep in your face/For now’s the time for your tears,” Dylan gives America permission to cry.

Between prose that reads like poetry and poetry that reads like prose, we found the two delightfully intertwined and inseparable. As Peter Johnson explains, “Just as black humor straddles the fine line between comedy and tragedy, so the prose poem plants one foot in prose, the other in poetry, both heels resting precariously on banana peels.”

We look forward to seeing the works you select for Poetry and Endings and to discussing them with you on December 13. Bring a poem of a known poet. Bring a friend. Show up! And widen the circle! Without your support the library may find other uses for the spacious room they’ve given us.

Blog with us here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Fall Schedule:
December 13, Poetry and Endings

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.

Come to the next One Page Poetry Circle on Tuesday, November 1 at 5:30 – 6:30 pm with a Prose Poem by a published poet. Address is below.

prosepoem_1101rProse poems lack the line breaks traditionally associated with poetry but have the intensity of language, succinctness, images, repetition, rhythm and perhaps even rhyme of poetry. The Japanese combined prose and poetry for the haibun in the seventeenth century. The French symbolist poets created the poetic form in the nineteenth century in reaction to the rigidity of the established form. Prose poetry continued in the early twentieth century most famously by Gertrude Stein and John Dos Passos then returned in the 50s and 60s with Charles Simic, James Wright, Bob Dylan, and others. Baudelaire, concludes in the ecstatic “Be Drunk”:

And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again, drunkenness already diminishing or gone, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything that is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is singing, everything that is speaking… ask what time it is and wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you: “It is time to be drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish.”

A Supermarket in California,” one of Allen Ginsberg’s earliest forays into prose poetry, begins by invoking Whitman and Lorca, two poetry experimenters he admires:

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.

In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!

What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!—and you, García Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?

Much prose, whether from the Bible, William Faulkner, or James Joyce, resonates with poetry. The start of the latter’s Finnegans Wake seems to flow full circle, “riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.”

We look forward to seeing the works you select for Prose Poems and to discussing them with you on November 1. Bring a poem of a known poet. Bring a friend. Show up and widen the circle! And in the meantime, we hope you will blog with us here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

 

The One Page Poetry Circle, sponsored by the New York Public Library is open to all. St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (81st Street), 3rd Fl. Handicap accessible. 

 

 

We met on October 4 to discuss Poems for Your Pocket.

Abigail began the circle by reading from Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Renascence” which she had first read at the site it describes in Camden, Maine. The poem begins, “All I could see from where I stood/Was three long mountains and a wood” and then goes on to envision the narrator developing a new relation with nature and with poetry.

Roger read William Ernest Henley’s “Invictus” which he kept in his pocket at a difficult time in his life. Concluding with the well-known words, “I am the master of my fate,/I am the captain of my soul,” this poem was also the pocket poem of Nelson Mandela and Timothy McVeigh.

Hazel read a poem we all know, love, and relate to: “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost. The final stanza, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep,/But I have promises to keep,/And miles to go before I sleep,/And miles to go before I sleep,” reminds us to look around at what is beautiful but that we also must move on to fulfill our obligations and our lives.

Gail read John Keats’s beautiful “Ode on Melancholy,” cautioning us that all is fleeting, “She dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die;/And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips/Bidding adieu.”

Karen read “The Blue Between” by Christine George calling on us to look beyond the obvious, “Everyone watches clouds,/Naming creatures they’ve seen/I see sky differently/I see the sky between.”

Terry read “Life’s Scars” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, another life lesson and reminder, “This rule all lives will prove;/The rankling wound which aches and thrills/Is dealt by hands we love.”

AnnaLee closed the circle by reading Sheniz Janmohamed’s, “The Road Ghazal” describing a life journey: “Pack light, walk tall/You’ll need courage to take this road./The maple bows to you, scattering her leaves upon this road.” A ghazal is a traditional eastern lyric poem normally set to music, and this poem spoke to all of us.

Elisabeth couldn’t make the circle, but had planned to read “Next Time Ask More Questions” by Naomi Shihab Nye, which suggests we slow down and consider, “Before jumping, remember/the span of time is long and gracious.”

We look forward to seeing the works you select for Prose Poems and to discussing them with you on November 1. Bring a poem of a known poet. Bring a friend. Show up and widen the circle!

We hope you will blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Fall Schedule:
November 1, Prose Poems
December 13, Poetry and Endings

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.

 

 

Come to St. Agnes on Tuesday, October 4, 2016 with A Poem for Your Pocket.

pocketpoem_1004rHave you ever tucked a poem into your pocket or purse? Was it a poem with special meaning for you, or a poem you wanted to show to a friend, one you wanted to memorize, or perhaps a poem you didn’t completely understand and wanted to read again later? If not, don’t worry – choose a poem you would like to find in your pocket, that surprised you, or that you would like to share.

AnnaLee carried “The Span of Life” by Robert Frost around with her:

The old dog barks backwards without getting up.
I can remember when he was a pup.

She still loves how much Frost packed into two simple lines and that she can read the poem from a slip of paper, or pull it from a pocket in her mind.

Abigail once put “Dying Speech of an Old Philosopher,” by Walter Savage Landor in her pocket hoping to embrace its peaceful and accepting philosophy:

I strove with none, for none was worth my strife:
Nature I loved, and, next to Nature, Art:
I warm’d both hands before the fire of Life;
It sinks; and I am ready to depart.

But she found life more complicated than that. Indeed, pockets themselves can have a complicated nature as explored by Howard Nemerov in

“Pockets”: 
Are generally over or around 
Erogenous zones, they seem to dive
In the direction of those

Dark places, and indeed
It is their nature to be dark
Themselves, keeping a kind

Of thieves’ kitchen for the things
Sequestered from the world
For long or little while,

The keys, the handkerchiefs,
The sad and vagrant little coins
That are really only passing through.

For all they locate close to lust,
No pocket ever sees another;
There is in fact a certain sadness

To pockets, going in their lonesome ways
And snuffling up their sifting storms
Of dust, tobacco bits and lint.

A pocket with a hole in it
Drops out; from shame, is that, or pride?
What is a pocket but a hole? 

When we selected this topic we didn’t know that the Office of the Mayor of New York City initiated Poem in Your Pocket Day in 2002, which has been extended to all of the United States and Canada. We can celebrate this day again on April 24, 2017, the official Poem in Your Pocket Day.

We look forward to seeing the poems you select for Your Pocket and to discussing them with you on October 4. In the meantime, if you have a comment about any of the poems posted here, or pocket poems in general, please click the speech balloon symbol below our title at the top of the blog.

Bring a poem of a known poet. Bring a friend. Widen the circle! And blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com. Without your support the library may find other uses for the spacious room they’ve given us.

Date: Tuesday, October 4
Theme: A Poem for Your Pocket
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue, 3rd Floor

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.

 

 

 

 

The One Page Poetry Circle met on September 13 to discuss Dialogue Poems.

Abigail began the circle by reading Thomas Hardy’s “The Ruined Maid” in which a woman from the country and a woman from the town converse about the virtues and vices of lovely clothing. “‘My dear — a raw country girl, such as you be,/Cannot quite expect that. You ain’t ruined,’ said she.”

Roger read from Act 2, Scene 2 of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, as Romeo speaks of Juliet’s beauty and Juliet worries about her admirer’s name, “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?/Deny thy father and refuse thy name,/Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,/And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.”

Hazel read “The Little Black Boy” from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence which begins: “My mother bore me in the southern wild,/And I am black, but O my soul is white.” This poem led to notice of where the name of the film “Beasts of the Southern Wild” came from and the more complicated idea of whether racism played a part in Blake’s thinking.

Gail read Leah Goldberg’s “Dialogue,” in which a man and a woman speak through seeming impenetrability, “Scorched by loneliness, towards a strange world’s lands/I carry my dust in my own hands.”

We were delighted that several people joined the circle for the first time. Of these, only Susan brought a poem, “That Single Line,” from How Beautiful the Beloved by Gregory Orr which describes the importance of poetry with its ability to reach other people, “Rescue is imminent./Too soon to say whose.”

AnnaLee closed the circle by reading the funny and touching “Munition Wages” by Madeline Ida Bedford, a woman who worked in an ammunition factory during World War I: “We’re all here today, mate,/Tomorrow — perhaps dead,/If Fate tumbles on us/And blows up our shed.”

Larry added two dialogue poems to our blog, the compact and tense “I Know a Man” by Robert Creeley and Robert Herrick’s more traditional “The Kisse: A Dialogue.” You can read them here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

We look forward to seeing the poems you select for A Poem for Your Pocket and to discussing them with you on October 4.

Bring a poem of a known poet. Bring a friend. Show up! And widen the circle! Without your support the library may find other uses for the spacious room they’ve given us.

We hope you will blog with us here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Fall Schedule:
October 4, A Poem for Your Pocket
November 1, Prose Poem
December 13, Poetry and Endings

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!

Find a poem! Show up! Read a poem! Discuss a poem!

We’re back for the eighth season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people gather to examine the works of established poets. Dialogue_0913While there’s 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 started, participants have selected and discussed 892 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

Come to St. Agnes on Tuesday, September 13 to discuss Dialogue Poems, a subject that’s sure to provoke lively dialogues.

Dialogue poems can be between people, concepts, or between the aspects of a single person. They often present different voices looking at the same situation, each with a distinctive point of view.

Here is George Herbert’s “A Dialogue-Anthem”:

Alas, poor Death! Where is thy glory?
Where is thy famous force, thy ancient sting?

Alas, poor mortal, void of story!
Go spell and read how I have killed thy King.

Poor Death! And who was hurt thereby?
The curse being laid on Him makes thee accurst.

Let losers talk, yet thou shalt die
These arms shall crush thee.

Spare not, do thy worst.
I shall be one day better than before;
Thou so much worse, thou shalt be no more.

George Herbert, a cleric writing in the 1600s when the subject of body versus soul was popular, believed Christ could render death meaningless as once the body was dead, the soul could live eternally in Heaven. The poem resonates with biblical verses and evokes later poems that call on the same verses. The word “Anthem” indicates a rousing song identified with a particular group, such as Christians here, and a choral composition based on a biblical passage.

In W. H. Auden’s “O What Is That Sound,” two people exchange dialogue that builds from fear and reassurance to abandonment.

O what is that sound which so thrills the ear
Down in the valley drumming, drumming?
Only the scarlet soldiers, dear,
The soldiers coming.

O what is that light I see flashing so clear
Over the distance brightly, brightly?
Only the sun on their weapons, dear,
As they step lightly.

O what are they doing with all that gear
What are they doing this morning, this morning?
Only the usual manoeuvres, dear,
Or perhaps a warning.

O why have they left the road down there
Why are they suddenly wheeling, wheeling?
Perhaps a change in the orders, dear,
Why are you kneeling?

O haven’t they stopped for the doctor’s care
Haven’t they reined their horses, their horses?
Why, they are none of them wounded, dear,
None of these forces.

O is it the parson they want with white hair;
Is it the parson, is it, is it?
No, they are passing his gateway, dear,
Without a visit.

O it must be the farmer who lives so near
It must be the farmer so cunning, so cunning?
They have passed the farm already, dear,
And now they are running.

O where are you going? stay with me here!
Were the vows you swore me deceiving, deceiving?
No, I promised to love you, dear,
But I must be leaving.

O it’s broken the lock and splintered the door,
O it’s the gate where they’re turning, turning
Their feet are heavy on the floor
And their eyes are burning.

Twentieth century poet W. H. Auden, may be evoking a war-torn era when one culture’s relentless march destroyed another. Death is again close by as in Herbert’s poem, but in Auden’s poem death has a personal meaning: when death threatens the individual, it ruptures human bonds.

We look forward to seeing the poems you select for Dialogue Poems and to discussing them with you on September 13.

Bring a poem of a known poet. Bring a friend and widen the circle! Without your support the library may find other uses for the spacious room they’ve given us.

We hope you will blog with us here on these poems or others at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Fall Schedule
September 13, Dialogue Poems
October 4, A Poem for Your Pocket
November 1, Prose Poems
December 13, Endings

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.

 

 

The One Page Poetry Circle met on May 10th to discuss Poetry and Success and Failure.

Monopoly_JailCardsAbigail opened our discussion with her thoughts that success and failure were inherently linked, and that within each there were aspects of the other. For something to fail there must first be an attempt, which is a show of success, and often a success can feel like a failure. Later AnnaLee pointed out that many poems that begin by speaking of success, end up on a note of failure and vice versa.

Abigail read J. K. Stephen’s “After the Golden Wedding (Three Soliloquies)” a sardonic look at a marriage that appears perfect from the outside; however, the husband is oblivious to the feelings of his wife who thinks, “when beneath the turf you’re sleeping,/And I’m sitting here in black,/Engaged as they’ll suppose, in weeping,/I shall not wish to have you back.”

Roger read “Success and Failure” by the People’s Poet, Edgar Albert Guest, in which the narrator believes that an individual makes his own fate as failure is not undeserved and success is not just luck, “Most men, themselves, have shaped the things/they are.”

Hazel read two short poems by Leigh Hunt, “Rondeau” and “Abou Ben Adhem.” In both poems a man’s state of mind is successfully changed by an event. Here is “Rondeau” in its entirety:

Jenny kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in:
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
Say that health and wealth have missed me,
Say I’m growing old, but add,
Jenny kissed me.

Gail read Richard Foerster’s “The Failure of Similes” on the impossibility of words and images to describe reality, “ In one image of the camps, the snow sifts down/like lime … or should it be the other way around?”

Delta read Noel Duffy’s “On Light & Carbon,” on the success of received wisdom versus scientific facts, “‘Where did it come from,/the world?’ I asked./‘It was born of God’s/Mercy and Love,’ the priest said./I trusted him.”

Rollene read “Child on Top of a Greenhouse” by Theodore Roethke, which describes the perception of a child in a precarious situation, “A line of elms plunging and tossing like horses,/And everyone, everyone pointing up and shouting!”

Phil also read two poems: Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias” and Horace Smith’s “Ozymandias.” The poems were created in a contest between the two men as to who could write a better poem on a statue with the inscription, “King of Kings Ozymandias am I. If any want to know how great I am and where I lie, let him outdo me in my work.” Both poems show Ozymandias’ belief in his own greatness and a later perspective on his success.

Karen read Patrick Kavanagh’s “In Memory of My Mother,” in which the narrator remembers the golden moments of contact with his mother, “I do not think of you lying in the wet clay/Of a Monaghan graveyard, I see/You walking down a lane among the poplars.”

AnnaLee closed the circle with “Failing and Flying” by Jack Gilbert which concludes with the triumph of failure, “I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,/but just coming to the end of his triumph.”

Larry uploaded two poems to our blog, “The Writer’s Wife” by Lucien Stryk and “Success is counted sweetest” by Emily Dickinson.

Have a wonderful summer and we will see you in the fall. And remember to 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.

Come to St. Agnes on Tuesday, May 10 to discuss Poetry and Failure and Success.

Date: Tuesday, May 10
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (near 81st Street), 3rd Floor
Theme: Poetry and Failure and Success

OPPC_Poster_May10In the lyrics of a famous Bob Dylan song, “there’s no success like failure and that failure’s no success at all,” we contemplate the attraction between the two words. Do some fail and through failure make a name for themselves, as Philip Schultz writes of his father in the beginning lines of “Failure”?:

To pay for my father’s funeral
I borrowed money from people
he already owed money to.
One called him a nobody.
No, I said, he was a failure.
You can’t remember
a nobody’s name, that’s why
they’re called nobodies.
Failures are unforgettable.
(read Schultz’s entire poem http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2007/12/05)

On the flip side of the question is the 1914 poem “To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Nothing,” by William Butler Yeats:

Now all the truth is out,
Be secret and take defeat
From any brazen throat,
For how can you compete,
Being honor bred, with one
Who were it proved he lies
Were neither shamed in his own
Nor in his neighbors’ eyes;
Bred to a harder thing
Than Triumph, turn away
And like a laughing string
Whereon mad fingers play
Amid a place of stone,
Be secret and exult,
Because of all things known
That is most difficult.

Yeats doesn’t advise his friend to buck up after a failure, but to do the thing “most difficult”: accept, and by doing so, succeed as a human being.

Can anyone be labeled a success when the person is living and could fail in the future? What is success anyway? Robert William Service begins the old favorite “Success” with the words:

You ask me what I call Success –
It is, I wonder, Happiness?
It is not wealth, it is not fame,
Nor rank, nor power nor honoured name.
It is not triumph in the Arts –
Best-selling books or leading parts.
It is not plaudits of the crowd,
The flame of flags, processions proud.
The panegyrics of the Press
are but the mirage of Success.
You may have all of them, my friend,
Yet be a failure in the end.

What do these or other poems say to you about success and failure?

—Abigail and AnnaLee

The One Page Poetry Circle met on April 12th to read and discuss Poetry and Identity.

Abigail began with Robert Browning’s dramatic monologue, “Porphyria’s Lover,” in which the speaker reveals himself to be a murderer: “That moment she was mine, mine, fair,/Perfectly pure and good: I found/A thing to do, and all her hair/In one long yellow string I wound/Three times her little throat around.”

Roger read Alyssa Murray’s “A Mix of Many Things,” describing herself and encouraging the reader to look at her or himself, “Reflecting on uniqueness, I hand the mirror to you,/to celebrate the many things that make you unique too.”

Lorraine read “My 1979” by Stephen Burt wherein the young narrator considers the difficulties of gender identification for the young, “I was Mr. Spock being raised by Dr. Spock./I was told I was free,/but only free to be me.”

Ralda read Wislawa Szyborska’s “Life While You Wait,” which imagines the entire world as a stage: “Performance without rehearsal./Body without alterations./Head without premeditation.”

Gail read “Who Am I?” by Carl Sandburg, a riddle poem describing Truth: “I know the passionate seizure of beauty/And the marvelous rebellion of man at all signs reading ‘Keep Off.’”

Karen read Campbell McGrath’s “Frida Kahlo: Self-Portrait Pierced by a Silver Rail,” one of his portraits of celebrated people, which ends, “My skirts and dresses my plaits and tresses/My pains my distresses my lisping s’s/My shyness my eyelessness my bloody messes.”

Eileen read from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” describing the essential American experience, “I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise;/Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,/maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man.”

Carolyn read from Robert Pinsky’s “Essay on Psychiatrists,” in which a “Catholic woman of twenty-seven with five children/And a first-rate body–pointed her finger/At the back of one certain man and asked me,/”Is that guy a psychiatrist?” and by god he was!” The narrator cannot pinpoint what behavior led to her identification of his profession.

Azure read Charles Simic’s “The White Room,” an evocative poem with rich metaphors: “Summer came. Each tree/On my street had its own/Scheherazade. My nights/Were a part of their wild/Storytelling.”

AnnaLee read Adrienne Rich’s “Diving into the Wreck,” which ends with what seems like a typo, but is intended: “We are, I am, you are/by cowardice or courage/the one who find our way/back to this scene/carrying a knife, a camera/a book of myths/in which/our names do not appear.”

Phil read Ryokan’s “Two Poems for My Friend Bōsai,” describing the Spartan existence of a Zen master, “Go as deep as you can into life,/And you will be able to let go of even blossoms.”

Larry added to the discussion by posting three poems concerned with identity on our blog. Read them in blog comments, here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com where you can also post your own comments and favorites.

We look forward to seeing the poems you select for Poetry and Failure and Success and to discussing them with you on May 10.

Spring Schedule:
May 10: Poetry and Failure and Success

Bring a poem of a known poet. Bring a friend. Show up! And widen the circle. Your attendance will help make our next meeting a perfect success!

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.