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

shakespeare_and-3We’re back for the ninth season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people gather to examine the works of established poets. Since the circle started, participants have selected and discussed 963 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them. (Bring a poem with you on March 7, and help us break through to 1000).

Anaphora, the theme for our next program, is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginnings of successive lines of poetry that can create emphasis, suggest connections, or mount up meanings. The repetition generates a pattern that resonates with the listener, producing a musical quality, memorable and seductive.

We take a broad approach to our themes. Whether a poem is literally about the theme, uses the theme in its title, or has even a remote connection to the theme, feel free to interpret and bring a poem that has meaning for you. For the theme of anaphora you might go beyond the repetition of the initial words to enjoy the repetition of lines and refrains. Can’t locate a poem you want to bring? Look through a poetry book at the library or check out Poetry Foundation or poets.org.

One memorable example of anaphora occurs in John of Gaunt’s lines on England in Shakespeare’s Richard II, building up a sense of common heritage:

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea (2.140-42)

In Mark Strand’s “From a Litany” the title gives the clue that the poem will be an invocation that gains strength through repetition. The word “From,” suggests this repetition may continue ringing beyond the poem’s last word. Here are the first few lines:

There is an open field I lie down in a hole I once dug and I praise the sky.
I praise the clouds that are like lungs of light.
I praise the owl that wants to inhabit me and the hawk that does not.
I praise the mouse’s fury, the wolf’s consideration.
I praise the dog that lives in the household of people and shall never be one of them.

One familiar anonymous proverb uses anaphora to show the connection between various things, a connection that can only be made in hindsight:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

What are your thoughts about anaphora in poetry? You can blog with us now by using the little speech balloon under the headline of this post. Or return later to onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

We look forward to seeing the works you select for Poetry and Anaphora and to discussing them with you on March 7. 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.

Spring 2017 Schedule:
March 7, Poetry and Anaphora
April 18, Poetry and Silence
May 9, Poetry and Theft 

Time: 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (near 81st Street), 3rd Floor

~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.