Archives for posts with tag: Emily Dickinson

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

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 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

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.

The One Page Poetry Circle met on May 10th to discuss Poetry and Success and Failure.

Monopoly_JailCardsAbigail opened our discussion with her thoughts that success and failure were inherently linked, and that within each there were aspects of the other. For something to fail there must first be an attempt, which is a show of success, and often a success can feel like a failure. Later AnnaLee pointed out that many poems that begin by speaking of success, end up on a note of failure and vice versa.

Abigail read J. K. Stephen’s “After the Golden Wedding (Three Soliloquies)” a sardonic look at a marriage that appears perfect from the outside; however, the husband is oblivious to the feelings of his wife who thinks, “when beneath the turf you’re sleeping,/And I’m sitting here in black,/Engaged as they’ll suppose, in weeping,/I shall not wish to have you back.”

Roger read “Success and Failure” by the People’s Poet, Edgar Albert Guest, in which the narrator believes that an individual makes his own fate as failure is not undeserved and success is not just luck, “Most men, themselves, have shaped the things/they are.”

Hazel read two short poems by Leigh Hunt, “Rondeau” and “Abou Ben Adhem.” In both poems a man’s state of mind is successfully changed by an event. Here is “Rondeau” in its entirety:

Jenny kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in:
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
Say that health and wealth have missed me,
Say I’m growing old, but add,
Jenny kissed me.

Gail read Richard Foerster’s “The Failure of Similes” on the impossibility of words and images to describe reality, “ In one image of the camps, the snow sifts down/like lime … or should it be the other way around?”

Delta read Noel Duffy’s “On Light & Carbon,” on the success of received wisdom versus scientific facts, “‘Where did it come from,/the world?’ I asked./‘It was born of God’s/Mercy and Love,’ the priest said./I trusted him.”

Rollene read “Child on Top of a Greenhouse” by Theodore Roethke, which describes the perception of a child in a precarious situation, “A line of elms plunging and tossing like horses,/And everyone, everyone pointing up and shouting!”

Phil also read two poems: Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias” and Horace Smith’s “Ozymandias.” The poems were created in a contest between the two men as to who could write a better poem on a statue with the inscription, “King of Kings Ozymandias am I. If any want to know how great I am and where I lie, let him outdo me in my work.” Both poems show Ozymandias’ belief in his own greatness and a later perspective on his success.

Karen read Patrick Kavanagh’s “In Memory of My Mother,” in which the narrator remembers the golden moments of contact with his mother, “I do not think of you lying in the wet clay/Of a Monaghan graveyard, I see/You walking down a lane among the poplars.”

AnnaLee closed the circle with “Failing and Flying” by Jack Gilbert which concludes with the triumph of failure, “I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,/but just coming to the end of his triumph.”

Larry uploaded two poems to our blog, “The Writer’s Wife” by Lucien Stryk and “Success is counted sweetest” by Emily Dickinson.

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

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 On March 8 to discuss Poetry and Science.

Abigail began the evening with May Kendall’s, “The Lay of the Trilobite,” in which the trilobite lectures the believer in the providential nature of natural selection on Victorian society until the man declares: “I wish that Evolution could/Have stopped a little quicker;/For oh, it was a happy plight,/Of liberty and ease,/To be a simple Trilobite/In the Silurian seas!”

Roger read Christina Rossetti’s lovely celebration of nature, “Who Has Seen the Wind?”: Who has seen the wind?/Neither I nor you:/But when the leaves hang trembling,/The wind is passing through.”

Lorraine read Jan Owen’s “First Love” which depicts the scene during a lesson on Archimedes in Physics class when the narrator fell for a man pictured in a book, “I got six overdues,/suspension of borrowing rights/and a D in Physics./But had by heart what Archimedes proves.”

Phil read the biologist and poet Joanna Tilsley’s beautifully illustrated “Natural Geodesic” describing the eyes of the bee, “Oh to be/a Honey Bee,/And see The World/in bright 5-D.”

Gail read “Ego” by Denise Duhamel wherein a schoolgirl attempts to understand the solar system based on a classroom depiction with fruit and a flashlight, “I just couldn’t grasp it-/this whole citrus universe, these bumpy planets revolving so slowly/no one could even see themselves moving.”

AnnaLee read an excerpt from John Donne’s “An Anatomy of the World” which was written shortly after Galileo published the evidence that Copernicus was right, the earth was not the center of the universe: “The sun is lost, and th’ earth, and no man’s wit/Can well direct him where to look for it.”

We had extra time so that Gigi read her poem “Splattered” which was based on a true account of a woman killed by a drunk driver.

AnnaLee, Phil and Lorraine each read a second poem to add to the diversity of approaches to the theme of science. We had poems by scientists, poems of childhood and adult responses to science, scoffers and close scientific observations. Larry contributed to the discussion by blogging online about Emily Dickinson’s scientific orientation and Howard Nemerov’s “Einstein & Freud & Jack”: “When Einstein wrote to ask him what he thought/Science might do for world peace, Freud wrote back:/Not much. And took the occasion to point out/That science too begins and ends in myth.”

We look forward to seeing the poems you select for Poetry and Identity and to discussing them with you on April 12.

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.

We hope you will blog with us here at

We look forward to seeing you at our upcoming circle on April 12, for a discussion on poems that deal with Identity.

Spring Schedule: 
April 12: Poetry and Identity
May 10: Poetry and Failure and Success

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 Tuesday, May 12th to discuss Poetry and Health. 

Abigail began by reading William Ernest Henley’s “Waiting,” describing a late-Victorian hospital waiting room that sounds exactly like one today, “A square, squat room (a cellar on promotion),/Drab to the soul, drab to the very daylight.”

Roger read Henry David Thoreau’s “To a Marsh Hawk in Spring,” “There is health in thy gray wing,/Health of nature’s furnishing,” celebrating spring, magnificent birds, and good health.

Hazel read John Keats’s “Sonnet” which she called the saddest poem she has ever read because it shows how much Keats wanted to write and to love and indicates how much we lost by that death, “When I have fears that I may cease to be/Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain.”

Gail read Michael Earl Craig’s “Night Nurse” which describes a conversation between two people or two voices of the narrator, “I imagine she is working on a sonnet,/And that her ankle looks like polished walnut./You imagine she is working on a crossword,/and that her feet are killing her.”

Karen read “Aubade” by Major Jackson, wherein a couple consider which is “healthier” in these “blissful seasons”: ”dropping off your dry cleaning” or letting “drop your sarong.”

Terry read Emily Dickinson’s “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,” which led us to discuss the possible reasons for Dickinson’s description of a funeral in her brain, including mental illness, epilepsy, migraine, and keeping secrets. Several members of the circle recommended Lyndall Gordon’s biography of the Dickinson family, Lives Like Loaded Guns.

Maddy read Jane Kenyon’s “Otherwise” written after the poet’s diagnosis of cancer, “At noon I lay down/with my mate. It might/have been otherwise,” ending with her haunting words, “But one day, I know,/it will be otherwise.”

Ralda read from Walt Whitman’s “I Sing the Body Electric” in which the body is the soul is the poem, “The love of the Body of man or woman balks account—the body itself balks account;/That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is perfect.”

AnnaLee closed the circle with Richard Eberhart’s “The Cancer Cells” in which the poet looks at the cells and recognizes both art and death: “Nothing could be more vivid than their language,/Lethal, sparkling and irregular stars,/The murderous design of the universe.”

Ryan was sick and couldn’t make the meeting, but he intended to bring “Whitman’s Pantry” by T. R. Hummer, a poem that imagines the contents of the great poet’s kitchen closet: “A box of sugar cubes to meliorate bitter tea—with these you could construct a model of the odd granite tomb/He insisted on for his own final habitation.”

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

Fall Schedule (all Tuesdays):
September 8: A Favorite Poem
October 13: Poetry and Ghosts and Zombies
November 10: Poetry and Clothes
December 8: Poetry and Marriage

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.

On December 9 One Page Poetry Circle met to discuss Poetry and Drink. We were grateful that a small but lively band braved the nor’easter and headed to the library with poems in hand.

BourbonBottleFrustrationAbigail began by reading Jon Loomis’ “Deer Hit” which describes a night when a drunk seventeen year-old hits a deer, puts it in the back of his father’s car, and drives home. The teen’s father, waiting up and watching tv, having had a few drinks himself, drags the deer out of the car and kills it. The poem concludes, “Some things stay with you. Dumping the body/deep in the woods, like a gangster. The dent/in your nose. All your life, the trail of ruin you leave”, leaving us to ponder how too much drink can lead to unintended consequences.

Roger read “The Demon Drink” by William McGonagall, who is often cited as the worst poet in the history of English literature although he developed a cult following during the Victorian era. McGonagall sought prohibition rather than just advising men to limit their drinking: “But no matter what he thinks, I say nay,/For by taking it he helps to lead his brother astray,/Whereas, if he didn’t drink, he would help to reform society,/And we would soon do away with all inebriety.” We all laughed at McGonagall’s flailing rhythms, forced rhymes and simplistic ideas.

Hazel read Edward Arlington Robinson’s “Miniver Cheevy” which ends: “Miniver Cheevy, born too late,/Scratched his head and kept on thinking;/Miniver coughed, and called it fate,/And kept on drinking.” His drinking isn’t mentioned until the last word of the poem, but that twists our perception of everything that has gone before. Cheevy romanticizes the past and drinks away his future.

Gail read “The Café Filtre” by Paul Blackburn in which the narrator takes his time to eat a meal, sip his wine, feed and pet his cat. With the same persistence, he punctuates the meal by tamping down the lid of his filter-coffee maker to push the water through the grains. At the end of the meal and the poem “The coffee goes down at a gulp, it/is black/& lukewarm”, we are left with disappointment. Perhaps the poet is speaking of everyday life.

Mady read Emily Dickinson’s “I taste a liquor never brewed,” in which the narrator is drunk, not from alcohol, but from nature, “Inebriate of air—am I—/And Debauchee of Dew—/Reeling—thro’ endless summer days—/From inns of molten Blue—”.

Marilyn read “Autumn Note” by Langston Hughes which ends, “The cold of winter comes apace/And you have gone away.” This reminder of autumn’s melancholy definitely matched the weather outside.

AnnaLee completed our circle with Evelyn Duncan’s “Picking Up” in which the author recalls being surprised by her teetotaler mother, who, rather than waste food during the Depression, distills brandy from overripe pears to store in the basement. When her father finds an out-of-town job, and the family is packing to go, her mother, again not wanting to waste, gives the brew to the movers who become inebriated. Driving down the highway the family discovers, “lying in the road or ditch: first/the chamber pot and dress; next,/a chair, a bucket, and a box of sheets./But drunk with hope, we praised our luck,/sang ‘Bringing in the Sheaves’/as we collected what the truck had dropped.”

Merrie couldn’t join us, but emailed these familiar lines from the self-styled “Worsifier,” Ogden Nash:

Is dandy

But liquor
Is quicker.

… and Larry (an OPPC regular before he moved) posted a few poems on our blog, one “The Winos on Potrero Hill” from the 60s author Richard Brautigan.

You’ll find Brautigan’s poem as well as commentary and all things having to do with poetry on our blog at .

Enjoy the holidays! We look forward to seeing you in 2015.

Spring 2015 Line Up:
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.