Archives for category: Poetry and Circles

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.

Advertisements

We met on March 7th to discuss Poetry and Anaphora, which is the repetition of initial words or phrases. AnnaLee reminded us that many poems also use epistrophe, the repetition of a final word or phrase, and symploce, the repetition of both initial and final words and phrases. Whew! We were delighted by the quality and variety of poems we discussed.

Abigail began by reading Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” which has all of the different forms of repetition, “Honour the charge they made!/Honour the Light Brigade,/Noble six hundred!”

Roger read from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Bells,” which reveals a lifetime through the ringing of different bells, “Hear the sledges with the bells–/Silver bells!/What a world of merriment their melody foretells!” This poem has been beautifully set to music by Phil Ochs — click on his name and listen!

Hazel read “I Dream I’m the Death of Orpheus” by Adrienne Rich, a poem that pays tribute to the great 1950 film by Jean Cocteau, “I am a woman in the prime of life, with certain powers/and those powers severely limited/by authorities whose faces I rarely see.”

Gail read “The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee” by a Native American writer, N. Scott Momaday, “I stand in good relation to all that is beautiful/I stand in good relation to the daughter of Tsen-tainte/You see, I am alive, I am alive.”

Yasin read “On Living” by the exiled Turkish writer Hazim Hikmet, “Life’s no joke/you must live it in earnest/like a squirrel, for example,/expecting nothing outside of your life or beyond.”

Linda read two poems by Emily Dickinson, including the following in its entirety. The current exhibition of Dickinson at the Morgan Library takes its title from this poem:

I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!

Terry read the frightening words of a fourteen year-old girl as written in “Hanging Fire” by Audre Lorde, “I have nothing to wear tomorrow/will I live long enough/to grow up/and momma’s in the bedroom/with the door closed.”

Mindy read the inspirational words of Maya Angelou in “Still I Rise,” Leaving behind nights of terror and fear/I rise/Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear/I rise/Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,/I am the dream and the hope of the slave./I rise/I rise/I rise.”

AnnaLee closed the circle by reading from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot, “Let us go then, you and I,/When the evening is spread out against the sky/Like a patient etherized upon a table./Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,/The muttering retreats…”

Elisabeth was not able to attend, but thought of “Tender Buttons” by Gertrude Stein, a prose poem: “A TIME TO EAT./A pleasant simple habitual and tyrannical and authorised and educated and resumed and articulate separation. This is not tardy.” It is hard to know what to say of it, but it is fascinating, and has the repetition of the word “and” like our poster for last month.

We look forward to seeing the works you select for Poetry and Silence and to discussing them with you on April 18the. Bring a poem of a known poet. Bring a friend. Show up! And widen the circle! Without your support the library may find other uses for the spacious room they’ve given us.

Please blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Spring 2017 Schedule
April 18, Poetry and Silence
May 9, Poetry and Theft

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.

globalgroupingWe begin our blog on circles with “The Second Coming,” a well-known poem by William Butler Yeats. My first encounter with the Yeats poem was in a beloved 11th grade English class taught by Ms. Guccione who used the John Ciardi book How Does a Poem Mean to teach the poetry section. The poem was written in 1919, at the end of World War I and the Russian Revolution, when many saw humanity’s future as uncertain. Immediately the poem spins us into a whirlpool with the opening words, “Turning and turning,” and by the end of the line we are in a “widening gyre” (a vortex or maelstrom) where a falcon cycles so far out that it can no longer hear or heed its master. The prediction is dire with collapse and loss of gravity.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Some of Yeats’s poems contain references to a mystical system of intersecting cone shapes he devised in which the world undulated through 2000 year cycles — each cycle overthrowing the old order only to be spun out again in new uncertain order. With its many biblical references and apocalyptic visions that speak for generations across continents, Yeats’s poem has influenced writers such as Joan Didion who referenced its last line for her book Slouching Toward Bethlehem, to rock musicians, to the writers of the popular tv series “The Sopranos” who derived plot lines and themes from the poem. Here’s a link to a rebus posted by Fu Jen University which uses book covers that have been influenced by this poem:

http://www.eng.fju.edu.tw/English_Literature/poetry_modern/2nd_coming/2dcoming.htm

“The Second Coming” was the last poem in the Ciardi book, bringing Ms. Guccione’s poetry lesson full circle and leaving us with an apocalyptic message that played into our own visions of what was to come for our generation. I was 15 when I wrote “Judeo-Christians losing hold” next to the word “falconer” in the first stanza, and under the words “Slouches toward Bethlehem,” I wrote: “second coming, a mixed blessing.”

How would you characterize the second coming that Yeats’s describes?

AnnaLee Wilson