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

Date: Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Ave. (near 81st St.), 3rd Fl.
Theme: Lyric Poetry

Find a poem! Read a poem! Discuss a poem!

OPPC_20150414We’re back for the seventh 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. Since the circle started, participants have selected and discussed 811 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

The theme for April is Lyric Poetry, one of the three general categories of poetry, along with narrative and dramatic. Lyric poetry, with its origins in musical expression, retains the harmonious tone even though no longer recited by a bard with a lyre. Lyric poems are personal and sensual, often with repeated sound patterns. The poet Lascelles Abercrombie wrote: “a poet does not compose in order to make of language delightful and exciting music; he composes a delightful and exciting music in language in order to make what he has to say peculiarly efficacious in our minds.” Most poetry written by the nineteenth century Romantic poets, as well as that of Housman and Yeats, is lyric and describes the feelings of a first-person narrator. Modernist poets of the early twentieth century, like Pound, Eliot and Williams, rejected the lyric as lacking in complexity of thought, while later in the century confessional poets, such as Plath and Sexton, rekindled the tradition.

Rondel, villanelle, ode and elegy are examples of lyric forms, as is Ben Jonson’s sonnet “On My First Son” (1616):

Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;
My sin was too much hope of thee, lov’d boy.
Seven years tho’ wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
O, could I lose all father now! For why
Will man lament the state he should envy?
To have so soon ‘scap’d world’s and flesh’s rage,
And if no other misery, yet age?
Rest in soft peace, and, ask’d, say, “Here doth lie
Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry.”
For whose sake henceforth all his vows be such,
As what he loves may never like too much.

In Marilyn Hacker’s rondel, “Rondeau after a Transatlantic Telephone Call,” the poet repeats the same phrase three times, each time varying and deepening the meaning.

Love, it was good to talk to you tonight.
You lather me like summer though. I light
up, sip smoke. Insistent through walls comes
the downstairs neighbor’s double-bass. It thrums
like toothache. I will shower away the sweat,

smoke, summer, sound. Slick, soapy, dripping wet,
I scrub the sharp edge off my appetite.
I want: crisp toast, cold wine prickling my gums,
love. It was good

imagining around your voice, you, late-
awake there. (It isn’t midnight yet
here.) This last glass washes down the crumbs.
I wish that I could lie down in your arms
and, turned toward sleep there (later), say, “Goodnight,
love, It was good.”

Let us know your thoughts on these or any other lyric poems.

Every April, Knopf celebrates National Poetry Month by sending a poem every day throughout the month. For several years, I’ve been receiving these well-selected poems on my smart phone and computer. They come from books of poetry published by Knopf. If you are interested, here’s a link for Poem-a-Day http://knopfdoubleday.com/2015/03/11/poem-a-day-2015/?Ref=Email_KDD_2015-3-13 . Click on Newsletters on the left sidebar, then add your email address and select Knopf Poetry.