Archives for posts with tag: Health

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.


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

Date: Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Ave. (81st St.), 3rd Fl. Theme: Poetry and Health

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

OPPC_20150512 We’re back for the seventh 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 started, participants have selected and discussed 813 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

When we approached May’s theme, Poetry and Health, we wondered why we’d chosen what seemed a dreary subject for the merry month. A little research rewarded us with a variety of poems that were rich in irony, humor, sarcasm, madness, longing, even vigor.

Within the older tradition, Dorothy Wordsworth’s plaintive words from 1835 recall what she misses while ill. Dorothy was the sister of the poet William and more known for her journals than her poetry.

When shall I tread your garden path?
Or climb your sheltering hill?
When shall I wander, free as air,
And track the foaming rill?

A prisoner on my pillowed couch
Five years in feebleness I’ve lain,
Oh! shall I e’er with vigorous step
Travel the hills again?

Here, in the opening tercets of “Progressive Health,” the poet Carl Dennis sets a darkly humorous stage for organ donations and the pleas to raise contributions.

We here at Progressive Health would like to thank you
For being one of the generous few who’ve promised
To bequeath your vital organs to whoever needs them.

Now we’d like to give you the opportunity
To step out far in front of the other donors
By acting a little sooner than you expected,

Tomorrow, to be precise, the day you’re scheduled
To come in for your yearly physical. Six patients
Are waiting this very minute in intensive care

Health seems to be a favorite subject of many poets in their mature years. In John Updike’s “Colonoscopy” the poet pokes literary fun at a disgusting rite of age that many of us are all too familiar with:

Talk about intimacy! I’d almost rather not.
The day before, a tussle with nausea
(drink me: a liter of sickly sweet liquid)
and diarrhea, so as to present oneself
pristine as a bride to the groom with his tools,
his probe and tiny TV camera
and honeyed words. He has a tan,
just back from a deserved vacation
from his accustomed nether regions.

Unfortunately we had to cancel our session on Lyric Poetry scheduled for April 14th because of renovation at the St. Agnes Library. We invite you to post your lyric poems and, if you want (and we hope you do), discuss them here on our blog.

Larry, who now lives outside the New York area, posted Charles Simic’s “Poverty” which begins:

When I looked at my poverty:
My boots and the belly of my wife,
The mouse lying in the trap,
And the face of my son while he sleeps,
I know nothing can hurt me any longer.

We look forward to the poems about health that you bring for discussion at the May 12th One Page Poetry Circle.

Bring a friend and widen the circle! And remember to blog with us here. Don’t be shy.

Spring Schedule:
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.