Welcome to the One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library!
Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, 5:30 – 6:30 pm at St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Ave. (near 81st St.), 3rd Fl. Theme—A Favorite Poem

A favorite poem seems such an easy topic, simply a poem that you like, but it may be hard to settle on just one. Perhaps this would be a poem you read when you were young that has continued to resonate through your life. You may respond because it reflects your feelings of celebration or loss. It could even be a poem you stumbled upon that touched you in the moment.

When Robert Pinsky was the American Poet Laureate, he started the Favorite Poem Project asking people for their favorite poems and short statements about why they chose them. The first year 18,000 Americans volunteered their favorites. Pinsky has since edited an anthology, Amercans’ Favorite Poems.

Oprah asked twenty-four celebrities about their favorite poem, and Demi Moore chose Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “Flower in the Crannied Wall” as it projects the major questions of life through the smallest flower:

Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower—but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.

AnnaLee: In Kindergarten, I loved Christina Rossetti’s “Who Has Seen the Wind” especially when I got to recite and pantomime it for the class. Today, the poem I return to again and again is Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach,” which begins with these achingly beautiful lines,

The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!

Sounds lovely, right? But immediately Arnold spools out his vision of the world on the brink of war. As tragic as this poem seems, when it ends I feel the opposite. My favorite lines fall in the last of the poem’s four stanzas, which show me that hope can be found through love, intimacy, poetry and truth.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Abigail: On a lighter note, one of my favorite poems is Langston Hughes’s “Theme for English B” which begins,

The instructor said,

Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you—
Then, it will be true.

Although Hughes wonders “if it’s that simple,” he manages to reveal something of himself on one page that everyone can relate to.

We look forward to the favorite poems that you bring for discussion at the September 8th One Page Poetry Circle. Bring a friend and widen the circle!

Fall Schedule:
September 8: A Favorite Poem
October 13: Poetry and Ghosts and Zombies
November 10: Poetry and Clothes
December 8: Poetry and Marriage

~Abigail Burnham Bloom and AnnaLee Wilson
“Post a comment. Don’t be shy!”

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.