Archives for posts with tag: Muriel Rukeyser

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

The Circle met on September 11 to discuss Poetry and Disaster. We had a lively turnout despite the confluence of 9/11 and Rosh Hashanah.

Abigail opened the Circle with “Inauguration Poem” by Lynn Melnick which invites us to share a personal disaster, “Do you know what it’s like when a body twice yours/holds you down in the room where you make your life/until you wouldn’t know how to move even if he wasn’t holding you down and then he splits you further open.”

Roger read Paula Bardell’s reaction to 9/11, “Silence (over Manhattan)”: “A black September shadow cloaks the dawn,/The City’s once white teeth now rotting stumps.”

Hazel read “Once by the Pacific” by Robert Frost, a poet we don’t often associate with the Pacific or disasters, “The clouds were low and hairy in the skies,/Like locks blown forward in the gleam of eyes.”

Michelle read “The Children’s Moon” by Marilyn Nelson in which a black teacher meets her white students on their first day of class, “In my navy shirtwaist dress and three-inch heels,/my pearl clip-ons and newly red-rinsed curls,/I smoothed on lipstick, lipstick-marked my girls.”

Gail read Jane Kenyon’s “After an Illness, Walking the Dog,” in which connections are seen between the narrator and the dog, “I wait/until we’re nearly out to the main road/to put him back on the leash, and he/—the designated optimist—/imagines to the end that he is free.”

Cate read Ada Limón’s “Dream of Destruction” with its beautiful and strange imagery, “We somehow knew the electric orange volcanic ooze of hot lava was bound to bury us all, little spurts of ash popping early like precum and not innocuous at all.”

Terry read “The Man He Killed” by Thomas Hardy, “Yes; quaint and curious war is!/You shoot a fellow down/You’d treat if met where any bar is,/Or help to half-a-crown,” a sad reflection on killing.

Susan read Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Dirge Without Music,” which repeats its first statement several times, “I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground. So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been time out of mind.”

Rollene read Elizabeth Bishop’s villanelle, “One Art,” with its almost-humorous escalation of losses, “The art of losing isn’t hard to master;/so many things seem filled with the intent/to be lost that their loss is no disaster.”

AnnaLee closed the Circle with Muriel Rukeyser’s “George Robinson Blues” from her Book of the Dead about the 1929 Hawks Nest Tunnel disaster in Gauley Bridge, West Virginia, which shows how in a disaster, we are all the same, “As dark as I am, when I came out at morning after the tunnel at night,/with a white man, nobody could have told which man was white./The dust had covered us both, and the dust was white.”

Dominick couldn’t come to the meeting, but remembered “The Wreck of the Deutschland” by Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Make mercy in all of us, out of us all/Mastery, but be adored, but be adored King.” If Kai had been able to attend, she would have brought “Songs to Survive the Summer” by Robert Hass, “Should I whisper in her ear,/death is the mother/of beauty?” June was reminded of “Thanks” by W.S. Merwin: “with nobody listening we are saying thank you/we are saying thank you and waving/dark though it is,” registering a grateful note despite disasters

Fall 2018 Schedule

Tuesday, October 9, Cowboy Poetry
Tuesday, November 13, Poetry and Simplicity
Tuesday, December 11, Poetry and Wine

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.

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The One Page Poetry Circle met on April 18 to discuss Poetry and Silence. We loved the poems everyone brought and the happy noise made over poetry!

Abigail began by reading Maria Jane Jewsbury’s “A Farewell to the Muse” which involves self-imposed renunciation and silence, “Farewell Song! —thy last notes quiver, —/Muse,—Lute, —Music, —farewell now!”

Roger read “Silence” by Edgar Lee Masters about the great difficulty of communication, “Of what use is language?/A beast of the field moans a few times/When death takes its young./And we are voiceless in the presence of realities.”

It was a relief when Phil read Carl Sandburg’s humorous “Aprons of Silence”: So many times I was asked/To come and say the same things/Everybody was saying, no end/To the yes-yes, yes-yes,/me-too, me-too.”

Hazel read “Ode on a Grecian Urn” a celebration of unheard melodies by John Keats and remarked that T. S. Eliot thought the famous last two lines spoil a good poem, “‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’ —that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

Gail read from Adrienne Rich’s “Cartographies of Silence,” a work Gail first read as a meditation in a prayer book, “Silence can be a plan/rigorously executed/the blueprint to a life.”

Linda read Michael Shepherd’s “! The Sound of Silence” which celebrates the life in everything: “And I hear in the sound of the chisel on the stone,/as sure as I know my own name,/that the sculptor is listening to all this too.” Note the strange use of punctuation in the title.

Eileen remembered a poem she had read “maybe 50 years ago” and brought Muriel Rukeyser’s “Effort at Speech Between Two People” to share with us: “: Speak to me. Take my hand. What are you now?/I will tell you all. I will conceal nothing.” Here the poet’s creative use of punctuation starts each segment and follows throughout.

Karen read “Patch of Light in Deep Woods” by Maurice Manning describing a magical moment, “I listen silently to the silence,/and then six or seven, a spiral stream of hummingbirds pours through the hole/as silver-green swirled down a funnel.” We couldn’t find this online, but did fine Manning’s “Provincial Thought”: “it struck me as a symbol inside/another symbol, a silence inside/a silence, and another silence fell on me.”

Carol read “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel, a song that resonates in many of our minds when we think of silence, “And the vision that was planted in my brain/Still remains/Within the sound of silence.”

Jaye read “To Those Who Are Alone” by Deafening Silence, “To those who are alone/and live their lives just drifting by,” to which Jaye added… “at my dinner party!” which she plans to have for vulnerable people.

AnnaLee closed the circle with Timothy Yu’s “Chinese Silence No. 22” which uses a series of stereotypes to eventually bring out individuality, “The Italians are making their pasta,/the French are making things French,/and the Chinese cultivate their silence.”

She also pointed out how the great Leonard Cohen’s two beats of silence towards the end of “Hallelujah” are as important as sound.

We look forward to seeing the works you select for Poetry and Theft and to discussing them with you at our next meeting on May 9 at the St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan. . 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.

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.