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 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.