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The One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library will be back on September 11, 2018, for its eleventh season, 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 began, participants have selected and discussed 1081 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

For September’s theme, Poetry and Disaster, we recognize the anniversary of one of the worst disasters of our lives. Maurice Blanchot wrote that “Disaster shuts down language. Disaster cannot be fathomed. Disaster stops all speech because the suffering it causes is so total and complete.” Theodor Adorno stated that “to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.” Yet the poet finds a way to respond to disaster with language, bearing witness to disaster. Psalm 137 begins with the lament after the destruction of Jerusalem, “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept/when we remembered Zion” and ends with a desire for revenge, a response difficult to check. When disaster strikes, we look to poetry for comfort and support, seeking to understand how others felt in similar situations or how we can get past our despair.

According to William Blake in “Infant Sorrow,” man begins in a hostile environment and finds what comfort he can:

My mother groand! My father wept.
Into the dangerous world I leapt:
Helpless, naked, piping loud;
Like a fiend hid in a cloud.

Struggling in my fathers hands:
Striving against my swaddling bands:
Bound and weary I thought best
To sulk upon my mothers breast.

After 9/11, the New Yorker published Adam Zagajewski’s “Try to Praise the Mutilated World.” Actually written in 2000, the poem seemed prescient then, and continues to echo our times. Its words provide a point of view for living with recurring disaster.

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees going nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.
(trans. Clare Cavanagh)

We’re looking forward to the poems you bring and read aloud on the subject of a disaster, response to a disaster, or that can provide comfort after a disaster. Bring one that has meaning for you, along with copies for the others, if you can. Looking for a poem to bring? Browse the poetry section at the library or check out Poetry Foundation or poets.org.

In the meantime, please blog with us here about poetry at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Fall 2018 Schedule
Tuesday, September 11, Poetry and Disaster
Tuesday, October 9, Cowboy Poetry
Tuesday, November 13, Poetry and Simplicity
Tuesday, December 11, Poetry and Wine

Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Ave., 3rd Fl.
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 pm

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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We all enjoyed the nice turnout on February 20th for Poetry and Lies! Starting around the Circle…

Abigail read sections from Robert Browning’s “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” which begins, “My first thought was, he lied in every word,/That hoary cripple with malicious eye.” Despite the inauspicious thought that the directions are a lie, Childe Roland follows them through a nightmare landscape.

Roger read “All the World’s a Stage” from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, which ends: “Last scene of all,/That ends this strange eventful history,/Is second childishness and mere oblivion,/Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” Roger commented that the poem is a protracted metaphor and metaphors may have truth in them, but they also have some exaggeration or lying.

Hazel read “Mary, I Believed thee True” by Thomas Moore, a more hopeful verse because although his beloved has proved false, the narrator believes in the possibility of true love, “For you, distracting woman, see/My peace is gone, my heart is broken./Fare thee well!”

Gail read Karin Gottshall’s “More Lies” which evokes a subtle melancholy and perhaps a wistful hope, “Sometimes I say I’m going to meet my sisters at the café—/even though I have no sister—just because it’s such/a beautiful thing to say.”

Linda read “Lies about Love” by D. H. Lawrence, which shows how love can change, “We are all liars, because/the truth of yesterday becomes a lie tomorrow,/whereas letters are fixed,/and we live by the letter of truth.”

Ken read “Where the Mind Is Without Fear” by Rabindranath Tagore, an idealistic poem of a world without lies, “Where words come out from the depth of truth/Where tireless striving stretches its arms toward perfection/Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way.”

Christiana read Maggie Smith’s “Good Bones” in which a mother lies to her children, “Life is short, though I keep this from my children./Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine/in a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways/I’ll keep from my children.”

Cate read Seamus Heaney’s “A Dog Was Crying Tonight in Wicklow Also” which tells a fable of a dog going to tell Chukwu the human reaction to death, “But death and human beings took second place/When he trotted off the path and started barking/At an other dog in broad daylight just barking/Back at him from the far bank of a river.”

Ann read Jeffrey Harrison’s “Our Other Sister” in which the narrator lies to his younger sister about having an older sister, “Our other sister/had already taken shape, and we could not/call her back from her life far away/or tell her how badly we missed her.”

Carol brought “A Place Called Lie Lie Land” by Bob B on a subject which is much in all of our minds, “Once there was a nation, which/Boasted of its wealth and size./In that nation lies became truth,/And truth became known as lies.”

AnnaLee rounded up the Circle with Susan Dwyer’s “The Lies of Sleeping Dogs: A Fable,” read in memory of her dog, Zoe, “That they’re sleeping is the first lie:/but with the same mechanism by which/they sense your fear, you already know/that they’re pretending, feigning sleep/because they too are afraid.”

Please blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Spring 2018 Schedule
March 6: Poetry and Enjambment
April 17: Poetry and Timing
May 8: Poetry and Choices

~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.

Welcome to the One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library!
Date: Tuesday, February 20
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Ave.

Theme:
Poetry and Lies

Find a poem! Show up! Read a poem! Discuss a poem!
We’re back for the spring 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 began, participants have selected and discussed 1034 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

Everyone lies. We do it to protect ourselves or to be kind to our friends, saying, “I’m busy next Saturday” or “You look terrific!” And what one calls a truism, can be shown by another to be false. Horace wrote, “Dulce et deorum est pro patria mori” [It is sweet and proper to die for one’s country], but Wilfred Owen, after witnessing a gas attack in The Great War, referred to the phrase as “the old Lie.” Plato called all poets liars as they are mired in illusion and create fiction.

Around 1592, Sir Walter Raleigh published a poem called “The Lie.” The poet publically accused the social elite and their organizations of lying or “giving them the lie.” But the authorship of this influential poem is not assured, so attributing it to Raleigh may be untrue.

Tell potentates, they live
Acting by others’ action;
Not loved unless they give,
Not strong but by a faction.
If potentates reply,
Give potentates the lie.

Tell zeal it wants devotion;
Tell love it is but lust;
Tell time it is but motion;
Tell flesh it is but dust.
And wish them not reply,
For thou must give the lie.

Dorothy Parker’s “Unfortunate Coincidence” concerns love and lying:

By the time you swear you’re his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying—
Lady, make a note of this:
One of you is lying.

We take a broad approach to our themes. Whether a poem is literally about lies, uses “lie” in its title, or even has a remote connection to the idea of lying, deception or untruth, feel free to bring a poem that has meaning for you. Having trouble locating a poem to bring? Look through a poetry book at the library or check out Poetry Foundation or poets.orgPlease blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Spring 2018 Schedule
February 20: Poetry and Lies
March 6: Poetry and Enjambment
April 17: Poetry and Timing
May 8: Poetry and Choices

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.

The One Page Poetry Circle met on December 12 to discuss Poetry and Windows.

Abigail opened the circle with William Allingham’s poem about a pool glimpsed from his window when he was a boy, “Many fine things had I glimpse of,/And said, ‘I shall find them one day.’”

Roger read Carl Sandburg’s “At a Window” which accepts life’s hunger and pain, yet asks for something more, “But leave me a little love,/A voice to speak to me in the day end,/A hand to touch me in the dark room.”

Hazel read “Now and Then” by Ian Hamilton in which the narrator describes an Institution as “so far away,” where “A gentle sun/Smiles on the dark, afflicted heads/Of young men who have come to nothing.”

Gail read Daisy Aldan’s “Women at Windows,” “Always, everywhere, at twilight, a woman/in a black dress leans on her elbows at a window”; these women do not see the world outside, “their eyes are focused IN rather than OUT.”

Patty read John Updike’s “Evening Concert, Saint-Chapelle” revealing the effect of music and stained glass windows: “The music surged; the glow became a milk,/a whisper to the eye, a glimmer ebbed/until our beating hearts, our violins/were cased in thin but solid sheets of lead.”

Linda read the first poem of the evening by Rainer Maria Rilke, “Sense of Something Coming”: “the doors still close softly, and the chimneys are full/of silence,/the windows do not rattle yet, and the dust still lies down.”

Cate read “New Rooms” by Kay Ryan which gave us a good laugh at the end: “The mind must/set itself up/wherever it goes/and it would be/most convenient/to impose its/old rooms—just/tack them up/like an interior/tent. Oh but/the new holes/aren’t where/the windows/went.”

Christiana read “Tulips and Addresses” by Edward Field which combines humor with editorializing, “The Museum of Modern Art on West Fifty-third Street/Is interested only in the flower not the bulb.” Consequently the narrator rescues the bulbs and eventually plants them in his windowbox where we can only hope they flowered.

Carol read Taylor Mali’s “Undivided Attention” in which a teacher loses the focus of his students, “See, snow falls for the first time every year, and every year/my students rush to the window/as if snow were more interesting than math,/which, of course, it is.”

AnnaLee read sections II and V from “Les Fenêtres” by Rainer Maria Rilke where inner and outer worlds meet, “You add to everything,/window, a sense of ritual:/ in your frame, merely standing/becomes waiting or meditating.”

Two extra short poems are given in their totality.

First, “Window” by Carl Sandburg

Night from a railroad car window
Is a great, dark, soft thing
Broken across with slashes of light. 

And this poem written with a diamond on her window at Woodstock by Queen Elizabeth I

Much suspected by me,
Nothing proved can be,
Quoth Elizabeth prisoner.

Enjoy the holidays! We look forward to seeing you in 2018.

Please blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Spring 2018 Schedule
February 20: Poetry and Lies
March 6: Poetry and Enjambment
April 17: Poetry and Timing
May 8: Poetry and Choices

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.

The One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library in Manhattan met on November 14 to discuss Poetry and Power.

Abigail read “Power” by Audre Lorde, an account of the killing of a ten year-old by a policeman who was acquitted “by eleven white men who said they were satisfied/justice had been done/and one Black Woman who said/‘They convinced me.’”

Roger read Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias” with its beautiful evocation of the futility of power: “My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;/Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!/Nothing beside remains.”

Hazel read “The Tempest” by James T. Fields which begins with the description of a storm, the power of nature, “’Tis a fearful thing in winter/To be shattered by the blast,/And to hear the rattling trumpet/Thunder, ‘Cut away the mast!,’” and then explores other kinds of power.

Gail read Gabriel Preil’s “The Power of a Question” describing the conversation between two old men, “Even a drop of Mozart/does not sweeten/the aridity of the hour./You are a squirrel in confrontation/with an uncracked nut,” which comes to life through the power of time.

Elizabeth read “I Hear America Singing” by Walt Whitman and we were reminded of the power of the individuals in this country who make up the whole, “Each singing what belongs to him or 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.”

Christiana read Sir John Collings Squire’s “Ballade of the Poetic Life,” “Princess, inscribe beneath my name/‘He never begged, he never sighed,/He took his medicine as it came’—/For this the poets lived— and died.”

Ken read “The Power of Words” by Letitia Elizabeth Landon (L.E.L.), “Anger and fear are in them; grief and joy/Are on their sound; yet slight, impalpable:—/A word is but a breath of passing air.”

Terry read “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou, in which the poet celebrates the power of believing in herself, “I walk into a room/Just as cool as you please,/And to a man,/The fellows stand or/Fall on their knees./Then they swarm around me,/A hive of honey bees.”

AnnaLee read “Fall 1961” by Robert Lowell, “All autumn, the chafe and jar/of nuclear war;/we have talked our extinction to death.” Yet he finds relief from this dire situation in nature.

Linda could not attend the circle, but brought “The Return of Lucifer” by Louis Ginsberg, father of Allen Ginsberg and Linda’s former high school teacher. In this poem Lucifer looks at his projects on the earth, “‘I’ll stay,’ he chuckled, ‘things are going well;/For, under Heaven, Earth’s a better Hell.’”

Look for our next post about the upcoming program for December. And, please blog with us here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

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.

Welcome to the One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library! where we met on October 17 to discuss Poetry and Punctuation.

Perhaps because the topic was unusual, we had fewer participants than usual. This didn’t stop us from enjoying and discussing the different poems people brought and the variety of approaches to the theme. We noticed that where punctuation was unusual, so were capitalization, rhyme, and meaning.

Abigail opened the circle with José Garcia Villa’s “comma poem” 136 where he uses a comma after every word to regulate what he describes as “the poem’s verbal density and time movement”: “The, hands, on, the, piano, are, armless./No, one, is, at, the, piano.”

Roger read “The Thunder Mutters” by John Clare, a working class poet of nature who spent much of his adult life in an insane asylum. He uses only one punctuation mark to show the point at which the rumblings of thunder become a storm:

The thunder mutters louder & more loud
With quicker motion hay folks ply the rake
Ready to burst slow sails the pitch black cloud
& all the gang a bigger haycock make
To sit beneath—the woodland winds awake
The drops so large wet all thro’ in an hour
A tiney flood runs down the leaning rake
In the sweet hay yet dry the hay folks cower
& some beneath the waggon shun the shower

Gail read Emily Dickinson’s description of the sea, which she never saw, #656, replete with dashes: “I started Early — Took my Dog —/And visited the Sea —/The Mermaids in the Basement/Came out to look at me —”

Dulce Maria read “When I Am Dead,” a poem that has been attributed to many different authors, which she heard read at a funeral: “I’ll have them come, those precious few/And shed perhaps, a tear or two/And then without a sob or moan/Go softly out, and leave alone.”

Ken read Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “The World Is a Beautiful Place” which contains no punctuation and begins, “The world is a beautiful place/to be born into/if you don’t mind happiness/not always being/so very much fun”.

Linda read Robert Frost’s “October,” which has a punctuation mark at the end of each line, and reminded us of the weather outside: “O hushed October morning mild,/Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;/Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,/Should waste them all.”

Iyara read a poem she wrote, a practice we discourage, but we were impressed that she was inspired by the poetry she heard in the Circle.

AnnaLee closed the circle by reading a poem without any punctuation, W. S. Merwin’s “For the Anniversary of My Death”: As today writing after three days of rain/Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease/And bowing not knowing to what”. Though the poem begins with a capital letter, there is no period at the end, showing the poet is still alive.

Christiana was unable to attend, but sent us Ronald Wallace’s “The Student Theme,” “Because it uses almost every form of punctuation, and made me smile…”

The adjectives all ganged up on the nouns,
insistent, loud, demanding, inexact,
their Latinate constructions flashing. The pronouns
lost their referents: They were dangling, lacked
the stamina to follow the preposition’s lead
in, on, into, to, toward, for, or from.
They were beset by passive voices and dead
metaphors, conjunctions shouting But! Or And!

Please blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Fall 2017 Schedule
November 14: Poetry and Power
December 12: Poetry and Windows

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.

We had a great turnout for the first of our fall 2017 season on September 12, where we examined poetry and Commemoration. 

Abigail began the circle with Jacqueline Woodson’s “Occasional Poem,” in which a student responds to a teacher’s assignment, “I guess them arguing/on a Tuesday in January’s an occasion/So I guess this is an occasional poem.” Although an occasional poem is another word for a commemorative poem, this one was not written for a traditional public event.

Roger read Marc Antony’s famous speech, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears,” from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, a work that starts as a commemorative oration but ends as an incitement to riot: “Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest—/For Brutus is an honourable man;/So are they all, all honourable men—/Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.”

Hazel read William Wordsworth’s “Composed upon Westminster Bridge,” a poem that commemorates or remembers London before sunrise, “The river glideth at his own sweet will:/Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;/And all that mighty heart is lying still!”

Gail read a shortened version of Yevgeni’s Yevtushenko’s “Babi Yar,” a poem that became a monument commemorating an horrific event, “No monument stands over Babi Yar./A steep cliff only, like the rudest headstone./I am afraid./Today, I am as old/As the entire Jewish race itself.”

Christiana read “Grand Central” by Billy Collins, which reads in its entirety:

The city orbits around eight million
centers of the universe
and turns around the golden clock
at the still point of this place.

Lift up your eyes from the moving hive
and you will see time circling
under a vault of stars and know
just when and where you are.

Linda read “Villanelle for an Anniversary” by Seamus Heaney, composed about the founder of Harvard University, “Begin again where frosts and tests were hard./Find yourself or founder. Here, imagine/A spirit moves, John Harvard walks the yard,/The books stand open and the gates unbarred.”

Eileen read Primo Levi’s “Shema” in which he substitutes knowledge of the holocaust for the well-known Jewish prayer, “Consider that this has been:/I commend these words to you./Engrave them on your hearts.”

Terry read “The Dogwood Tree” by Curtis Moorman, a poem she announced was not very good but that intrigued her because the author wrote prolifically from jail, “Legend says of the Dogwood tree/That on it, Christ was crucified/His blood was shed for you and me/When the soldier pierced His side.”

Vincent read “Normandy, the Impossible Made Possible,” a poem he had written and published describing the landing of the Allies, “Into the face of death, they forged our destiny,/Changing the course of history.”

Maria read William Wordsworth’s “Daffodils,” which examines how a scene can be remembered, “For oft, when on my couch I lie/In vacant or in pensive mood,/They flash upon that inward eye/Which is the bliss of solitude;/And then my heart with pleasure fills,/And dances with the daffodils.”

AnnaLee completed the circle with Mary Jo Bang’s “The Role of Elegy,” which describes a type of commemorative poem, and explores the poet’s difficulty memorializing her son’s death: “The role of elegy is/To put a death mask on tragedy,/A drape on the mirror.”

Scott couldn’t make the meeting but found a poem celebrating an event in the Boer War, which included the lines:

They went across the veldt,
As hard as they could pelt.

Like much of commemorative poetry, these lines are awful. Unfortunately great poetry cannot usually be composed on command.

We look forward to the poems you bring for Poetry and Punctuation. As a reminder, OPPC is not for reading poems you have written, but an opportunity to appreciate well-established poets. 

Find a poem! Show up! Read a poem! Discuss a poem!

Fall 2017 Schedule

October 17: Poetry and Punctuation
November 14: Poetry and Power
December 12: Poetry and Windows

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.


We kick off the One Page Poetry Circle fall program with Commemoration Poetry, also called occasional poetry, which is composed for a particular occasion or after a significant event. Commemoration poems are frequently written to celebrate weddings and to enhance funerals, military victories, defeats and anniversaries. Early British poets often received patronage for writing commemoration verse and the Poet Laureate of England was originally appointed for the purpose of writing verse for significant national occasions, as Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote “The Charge of the Light Brigade.” Many people believe that Alfred Austin may have been the worst Poet Laureate as he commemorated the illness of the Prince of Wales with these lines, “Across the wires the electric message came, He is no better, he is much the same.”

Similar lines by Philip Larkin, erected at a memorial planter in Queen Square Gardens on the occasion of Elizabeth II’s 1977 Silver Jubilee, have an intriguing backstory:

In times when nothing stood
But worsened, or grew strange,
There was one constant good:
She did not change

Elizabeth Alexander read her commemoration poem, “Praise Song for the Day,” at the inauguration of Barack Obama as President in 2009 in a tradition that includes Robert Frost celebrating the inauguration of President Kennedy (1961), and Maya Angelou (1993) and Miller Williams (1997) celebrating Bill Clinton’s inaugurations.

Commemoration poems, although often lyric, can also take the form of elegy, epithalamion and ode. These are poems written for a public and often performed before an audience, which distinguishes them from any poem that may be written for an occasion. One of the most famous World War I commemoration poems is “For the Fallen” by Robert Laurence Binyon, which contains this familiar verse:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

In “Old South Meeting House,” a 2016 poem commissioned by the Academy of American Poets, January Gill O’Neil chose to commemorate a historical church now dwarfed by surrounding skyscrapers along Boston’s Freedom Trail, “At this time of political divides, I wanted to end on a note of hope”:

In praise and dissent.
We draw breath from brick. Ignite the fire in us.
Speak to us:
the language is hope.

Do you have a commemorate poem you especially like? We invite you to post it on this blog and tell us why you liked it. Let’s hear from you.

To add a comment or post a poem, just click on the little speech balloon near the headline of this post.

~Abigail Burnham Bloom and AnnaLee Wilson

One Page Poetry Circle

September 12, 2017
NYPL St. Agnes Branch, 444 Amsterdam Ave.
5:30 -6:30 PM.

One Page Poetry Circle sponsored by the New York Public Library is open to all. St. Agnes Branch Library is handicap accessible. 

The One Page Poetry Circle met on May 9th to discuss Poetry and Theft. We had a great turnout for our last program of the spring season.

Abigail opened our discussion with two poems, “Jenny Kiss’d Me” by Leigh Hunt, which employs the metaphor of time as a thief, and John MilSafe_Open_Emptyton’s “Sonnet 7,” in which Abigail believes she has found the origin of the metaphor. “How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,/Stol’n on his wing my three-and-twentieth year!” We were impressed by Milton’s concern about how little he had accomplished by the age of 23 and how much he would eventually accomplish.

Roger read Wendy Videlock’s poem “Disarmed,” in which a mother views the evidence of her son’s stolen snacks as he sleeps, “how could I be uncharmed by this,/your secret world, your happy mess?”

Phil read “The Thieves” by Robert Graves which describes lovers who thieve, reciprocally, from each other, “After, when they disentwine/You from me and yours from mine,/Neither can be certain who/Was that I whose mine was you.”

Hazel and Terry brought the same poem, something that seldom happens, and examined in different ways Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 99”: “The forward violet thus did I chide:/Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells,/If not from my love’s breath?”

Ken read Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”: “‘There must be some way out of here,’/Said the joker to the thief/‘There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief’” and we discussed different interpretations of who the joker and the thief represent and what the song means.

Elizabeth spoke about the theft of a civilization, something experienced by the Hmong people. She brought with her a piece of tapestry that tells (if we knew how to read it) the history of one family and a poem by Mai Der Vang “Cipher Song”: “It’s come to this. We hide the stories/on our sleeves, patchwork of cotton veins.”

Linda read “Ralph Rhodes,” a selection from the Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters: “And you look up, and there’s your Theft,/Who waited until your head was gray,/And your heart skipped beats to say to you:/The game is ended./I’ve called for you.”

Salomé read “Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson, a poem describing a man who was rich and respected, “So on we worked, and waited for the light,/And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;/And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,/Went home and put a bullet through his head.”

Gail read Philip Larkin’s “Home Is So Sad,”

Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,
Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
As if to win them back. Instead, bereft
Of anyone to please, it withers so,
Having no heart to put aside the theft
And turn again to what it started as,
A joyous shot at how things ought to be,
Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:
Look at the pictures and the cutlery.
The music in the piano stool. That vase.

Karen read two poems from an anthology used to teach children that describe, as in the Larkin poem above, the emptiness in a home. “There Are Four Chairs Round the Table” by John Foster begins, “There are four chairs round the table,/Where we sit down for our tea./But now we only set places/For Mum, for Terry and me.” One of the authors in this anthology said he writes poetry because: “A. When you didn’t follow teacher’s directions to write a poem, you got the cane. B. Later, I thought that girls would realize what a sensitive and wonderful human being I was. They did not. C. Now, to entertain children.”

Stan read the work of a Cherokee poet, Santee Frazier, “The Robbery” which begins, “Red ambulance flicker, curbstone, wheels, a gurney. Down the breezeway a baby, crying out among the gawk-mouthed heads./Knifed, sliced, the man bleeding through the gauze and onto his belly.”

AnnaLee closed the circle with “The Stealing Poems” by Robert Adamson, which compares the act of theft with sex:

It’s the way you feel
as you do it
it’s not good
or bad or anything
and you lose
the feeling as soon as
it’s over
it’s like sex a lot
that’s why when you steal
when you’re a kid
it’s so strange
because you haven’t got sex
to compare it to

Have a wonderful summer and we will see you in the fall. And remember to blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com. Don’t be shy.

Fall 2017 Schedule:
September 12: Poetry and Commemoration
October 17: Poetry and Punctuation
November 14: Poetry and Power
December 12: Poetry and Windows

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.

Welcome to the One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library! On Tuesday, May 9, we’ll be reading and discussing the work of established poets on the theme of Poetry and Theft (see particulars below).

Stop thief! Whether someone steals your heart, your belongings, or your poetry, there is a lot of theft out there. While theft and losing things can be bad, poetic theft borrows from other poets to add to the conversation and that’s valuable — unless too much is stolen from one poet and then it’s piracy!

In the poetic form cento (collage), which goes back to Virgil and Homer, every part of a poem must be filched from a different poet. Simone Muench’s “Wolf Cento” begins with words from Anne Sexton’s “Frenzy” and ends with a line from Carl Sandburg’s “Wilderness.”

Very quick. Very intense, like a wolf
at a live heart, the sun breaks down.
What is important is to avoid
the time allotted for disavowels
as the livid wound
leaves a trace    leaves an abscess
takes its contraction for those clouds
that dip thunder & vanish
like rose leaves in closed jars.
Age approaches, slowly. But it cannot
crystal bone into thin air.
The small hours open their wounds for me.
This is a woman’s confession:
I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me.

In Shakespeare’s Othello, Iago, a character who intends to ruin Desdemona and Othello, states something that is true, but his truthfulness disguises his intentions: 

Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
’twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
 
And makes me poor indeed.

In “Song of Fairies Robbing an Orchard” Leigh Hunt wrote of the rewards of theft:

Stolen sweets are always sweeter,
Stolen kisses much completer,
Stolen looks are nice in chapels,
Stolen, stolen, be your apples.

If you can’t make our free library event let’s hear from you anyway by telling us what poem you would have brought or commenting. To do so, click on the small gray speech balloon next to the date.

Abigail Burnham Bloom and AnnaLee Wilson

Poetry and Theft
Tuesday, May 9, 5:30 – 6:30 pm, St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (near 81st Street), 3rd Floor

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.