Archives for category: politics in poetry

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

Date: Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Brnch Library, 444 Amsterdam Ave. (81
st St.), 3rd Fl.
Theme: Poems about everyday things (poster attached)

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

OPPC_20150210We’re back for the seventh season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people gather to examine the works of established poets. While there is 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 792 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

For our first meeting in the new year we’ll take a look at poetry and the everyday. We became intrigued by the subject in the fall when several of Pablo Neruda’s odes to common things were read in the One Page Poetry Circle. In these works, socks, bread and a box of tea are all examined and transformed by the author into something new. In Neruda’s “Ode to Things” published in the 1950s Neruda tells us about the ordinary things he loves and that the hands that have made them: “all bear/the trace/of someone’s fingers/on their handle or surface,/the trace of a distant hand/lost/in the depths of forgetfulness.

Kay Ryan, Poet Laureate of the United States 2008-2010, joins this tradition with poems about doorknobs, Chinese acupuncture charts and chickens. In her poem “Expectations” the narrator looks forward to a chain of events, if only the weather would cooperate.

We expect rain
To animate this
Creek: these rocks
To harbor gurgles,
These pebbles to
Creep downstream
A little, those leaves
To circle in the
Eddy, the stains
And gloss of wet.
The bed is ready
But no rain yet.

For a different take on poetry about everyday things, consider this:

Early English poetry was dedicated to the epic, the elegiac and the religious, all serious topics. The only exception was the riddle which celebrated domestic activity and the ordinary. Here’s a provocative riddle from Anglo-Saxon England (translated into modern English):

I’m a strange creature, for I satisfy women,
a service to the neighbors! No one suffers
at my hands except for my slayer.
I grow very tall, erect in a bed,
I’m hairy underneath. From time to time
a good-looking girl, the doughty daughter
of some churl dares to hold me,
grips my russet skin, robs me of my head
and puts me in the pantry. At once that girl
with plaited hair who has confined me
remembers our meeting. Her eye moistens.

Is it a penis or an onion? The first jumps forward revealing our dirty minds, but to say it’s an onion seems naïve. Unfortunately the answer has not survived with the riddle itself. Like all poetry it contains no ultimate solution, but only clues to be interpreted in different ways.

Check back at this blog for all things having to do with poetry!

We look forward to reading and discussing your selections for our next program, Poems about everyday things on February 10th.

Bring a friend and widen the circle! 

Schedule for the spring:

February 10: Poems about everyday 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