Archives for category: poetry and politics

On November 4 the One Page Poetry Circle met to discuss Poetry and Politics.

DonkeyAndElephantAbigail began by reading Hilaire Belloc’s “The Justice of the Peace” in which the speaker chides his tenant, “I do not envy you your hat, your shoe./Why should you envy me my small estate?/It’s fearfully illogical of you/To fight with economic force and fate.” We laughed sadly at the irony of the poem describing a world in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Roger read “Ozymandias” by John Keats. A traveller has seen a broken statue in the desert, “Nothing beside remains./Round the decay/Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare/The lone and level sands stretch far away,” reminding us of the death of all tyrants and civilizations.

Hazel read Vachel Lindsay’s “Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight,” which describes Lincoln mourning over the state of the world, “It breaks his heart that kings must murder still,/That all his hours of travail here for men/Seem yet in vain. And who will bring white peace/That he may sleep upon his hill again?” Our first three poems all envision a world in which the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Gail read “Exquisite Politics” by Denise Duhamel which describes conflicting attitudes about the United States with humor, “Someday … I’ll leave [America] as easy as a marriage,/splitting our assets, hoping to get the advantage/before the other side yells: Wow! America,/Vespucci’s first name and home of free and brave, Te amo.”

Karen read two short poems by Calvin Trillin. Here is “An Optimist Greets the New Speaker” in full: “It’s true for greed this has to be a gainer/(To lobbyists John Boehner’s on retainer)./Can anything be said for Speaker Boehner?/Yes. Others in the party are insaner.” These poems provided a good laugh on a day when we were not laughing about the state of politics.

Terry read from Maya Angelou’s “On the Pulse of Morning” written for the inauguration of President Clinton. The poem ends, “Here on the pulse of this new day/You may have the grace to look up and out/And into your sister’s eyes, into/Your brother’s face, your country/And say simply/Very simply/With hope/Good morning.”

AnnaLee completed our circle by reading another poem by Denise Duhamel, “Exquisite Candidate” which gives us a hodge-podge of candidates’ pledges, “I can promise you this: food in the White House/will change! No more granola, only friend eggs/flipped the way we like them. And ham ham ham!” AnnaLee noted that the title of this poem, as well as the poem that Gail read, reference the parlor game, Exquisite Corpse, in which a piece of paper is folded and rolled and each participant adds to the picture of a person in sequence (but without seeing what the others have done) until like the poem, there is a composite of a body from head to toes.

We were delighted to learn that one member of our group, Esther Lazarson, published a book of poetry, “Everyday Poems for Everyday People,” available from amazon.com.

And finally, Larry who moved away but has remained a friend of OPPC, posted two Robinson Jeffers poems to our blog on the subject of Poetry and Politics. See what Larry has to say at https://onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com/2014/10/23/oppc-november-4-poetry-politics/#comments .

We look forward to reading and discussing your selections for our next program, Poetry and Drink on December 9th.

Bring a friend and widen the circle! And remember to blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com. Don’t be shy.

Schedule for the spring:
February 10: Poems about every day things
March 10: Poetry and red
April 14: Lyric poetry
May 12: Poetry and health

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.

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OPPC_Nov04_PoliticsJoin the One Page Poetry Circle on Election Day, November 4 to discuss Poetry and Politics.

Even when poems are not directly about politics, they are imbued with it as a poem expresses the author’s view of the world and how it should be. In the poems that follow, two great poets present their visions of America. In Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing,” the poet celebrates the people of our country through the glorification of labor:

I HEAR America singing, the varied carols I hear;
Those of mechanics—each one singing his, as it should be, blithe and
        strong;
The carpenter singing his, as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his, as he makes ready for work, or leaves off
        work;
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat—the deckhand
        singing on the steamboat deck;
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench—the hatter singing as
        he stands;
The wood-cutter’s song—the ploughboy’s, on his way in the morning,
        or at the noon intermission, or at sundown;
The delicious singing of the mother—or of the young wife at work—or
        of the girl sewing or washing—Each singing what belongs to
        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.

In response to Whitman’s view, Langston Hughes wrote “I, Too” in which he reminds the reader of those America left out:

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.

Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America

Although we may be disgusted with our politicians, we are proud of our democracy in which all can contribute to the solving of our problems.

Click on the speech balloon next to the subject of this blog post and send us your own thoughts or poems on the subject of Poetry and Politics. Or any another other poetry subject!

While you are thinking, mark November 4th on your calendars for the next One Page Poetry Circle. 

Date: Tuesday, November 4
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (near 81st Street), 3rd Floor
Theme: Poetry and Politics