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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.

Come to St. Agnes on Tuesday, May 10 to discuss Poetry and Failure and Success.

Date: Tuesday, May 10
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (near 81st Street), 3rd Floor
Theme: Poetry and Failure and Success

OPPC_Poster_May10In the lyrics of a famous Bob Dylan song, “there’s no success like failure and that failure’s no success at all,” we contemplate the attraction between the two words. Do some fail and through failure make a name for themselves, as Philip Schultz writes of his father in the beginning lines of “Failure”?:

To pay for my father’s funeral
I borrowed money from people
he already owed money to.
One called him a nobody.
No, I said, he was a failure.
You can’t remember
a nobody’s name, that’s why
they’re called nobodies.
Failures are unforgettable.
(read Schultz’s entire poem http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2007/12/05)

On the flip side of the question is the 1914 poem “To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Nothing,” by William Butler Yeats:

Now all the truth is out,
Be secret and take defeat
From any brazen throat,
For how can you compete,
Being honor bred, with one
Who were it proved he lies
Were neither shamed in his own
Nor in his neighbors’ eyes;
Bred to a harder thing
Than Triumph, turn away
And like a laughing string
Whereon mad fingers play
Amid a place of stone,
Be secret and exult,
Because of all things known
That is most difficult.

Yeats doesn’t advise his friend to buck up after a failure, but to do the thing “most difficult”: accept, and by doing so, succeed as a human being.

Can anyone be labeled a success when the person is living and could fail in the future? What is success anyway? Robert William Service begins the old favorite “Success” with the words:

You ask me what I call Success –
It is, I wonder, Happiness?
It is not wealth, it is not fame,
Nor rank, nor power nor honoured name.
It is not triumph in the Arts –
Best-selling books or leading parts.
It is not plaudits of the crowd,
The flame of flags, processions proud.
The panegyrics of the Press
are but the mirage of Success.
You may have all of them, my friend,
Yet be a failure in the end.

What do these or other poems say to you about success and failure?

—Abigail and AnnaLee

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

Date: Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (near 81st St), 3rd Fl.
Subject OPPC_20150310: Poetry and Red

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

The theme for March is red, a color found on the far end of the visible spectrum. Red is associated with everything from virtue to sin, from safety to danger. In Christianity red is associated with both the Blood of Christ and the Whore of Babylon. Poetic references to the color include such diverse items as politics, the sun, birds, anger, fiery beards, tresses, and poppies.

In the haiku-like stanzas of “Red Beans” the poet Victor Hernández Cruz treats us to servings of red beans and white rice. On one plate iron-colored beans are ringed by hills of white rice. In another the red of the gravy becomes the lava seeping through a field of white rice. The poem ends in a vision of red beans and milk mixing to make a delicate burgundy. Is Cruz speaking about a beautiful hot and fiery mixing of peoples?

Next to white rice
it looks like coral
sitting next to snow

Hills of starch
border
The burnt sienna
of irony

Azusenas being chased by
the terra cotta feathers
of a rooster

There is a lava flow
through the smoking
white mounds

India red
spills on ivory

Ochre cannon balls
falling
next to blanc pebbles

Red beans and milk
make burgundy wine

Violet pouring
from the eggshell
tinge of the plate.

The beloved poet Robert Burns uses red as an expression of deep emotion in this excerpt from his 1794 song, “A Red, Red Rose”:

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve’s like the melody
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry:

In Burns’ famous lines the speaker boasts of his undying love, aligning this with the eternities of nature. At the same time the image of the “red, red rose” indicates the spring of love, which must, like the flower, fade in the fall. An interesting note: Bob Dylan selected this as the poem that had the greatest impact on his life.

We look forward to reading and discussing your selections for our next program, Poetry and Red, on March 10th. Bring a friend and widen the circle!

And remember to blog with us here about all things concerning poetry. Don’t be shy.

Schedule for the spring:
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.