Archives for posts with tag: Neruda

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

Date: Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Brnch Library, 444 Amsterdam Ave. (81
st St.), 3rd Fl.
Theme: Poems about everyday things (poster attached)

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

OPPC_20150210We’re back for the seventh season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people gather to examine the works of established poets. While there is 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 792 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

For our first meeting in the new year we’ll take a look at poetry and the everyday. We became intrigued by the subject in the fall when several of Pablo Neruda’s odes to common things were read in the One Page Poetry Circle. In these works, socks, bread and a box of tea are all examined and transformed by the author into something new. In Neruda’s “Ode to Things” published in the 1950s Neruda tells us about the ordinary things he loves and that the hands that have made them: “all bear/the trace/of someone’s fingers/on their handle or surface,/the trace of a distant hand/lost/in the depths of forgetfulness.

Kay Ryan, Poet Laureate of the United States 2008-2010, joins this tradition with poems about doorknobs, Chinese acupuncture charts and chickens. In her poem “Expectations” the narrator looks forward to a chain of events, if only the weather would cooperate.

We expect rain
To animate this
Creek: these rocks
To harbor gurgles,
These pebbles to
Creep downstream
A little, those leaves
To circle in the
Eddy, the stains
And gloss of wet.
The bed is ready
But no rain yet.

For a different take on poetry about everyday things, consider this:

Early English poetry was dedicated to the epic, the elegiac and the religious, all serious topics. The only exception was the riddle which celebrated domestic activity and the ordinary. Here’s a provocative riddle from Anglo-Saxon England (translated into modern English):

I’m a strange creature, for I satisfy women,
a service to the neighbors! No one suffers
at my hands except for my slayer.
I grow very tall, erect in a bed,
I’m hairy underneath. From time to time
a good-looking girl, the doughty daughter
of some churl dares to hold me,
grips my russet skin, robs me of my head
and puts me in the pantry. At once that girl
with plaited hair who has confined me
remembers our meeting. Her eye moistens.

Is it a penis or an onion? The first jumps forward revealing our dirty minds, but to say it’s an onion seems naïve. Unfortunately the answer has not survived with the riddle itself. Like all poetry it contains no ultimate solution, but only clues to be interpreted in different ways.

Check back at this blog for all things having to do with poetry!

We look forward to reading and discussing your selections for our next program, Poems about everyday things on February 10th.

Bring a friend and widen the circle! 

Schedule for the spring:

February 10: Poems about everyday 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.


On October 15 the One Page Poetry Circle met to discuss Poetry and the Ode.

Abigail began the evening with a poem by Mark Twain, who is known more for his fiction than his poetry. The work of a thirteen-year-old character in the novel Huckleberry Finn, “Ode to Stephen Dowling Bots, Dec’d” records a death: “O no. Then list with tearful eye,/Whilst I his fate do tell./His soul did from this cold world fly,/By falling down a well.” Twain’s parody of obituary poetry is also a parody of the ode. The poet expresses no personal emotions, she simply delights in writing about strange deaths.

Roger read John Keats’ famous “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” a poem that has raised a lot of controversy over its final lines, “‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’” While the poem was familiar to all of us, we admired its phrases without reaching a consensus on its meaning. As we continued around the room and other poems were read we found many that referenced Keats’ poem in one way or another.

Gail read C. Dale Young’s, “Ode to a Yellow Onion” which begins, “And what if I had simply passed you by,/your false skins gathering light in a basket,/those skins of unpolished copper,/would you have lived more greatly?” By the end of the poem Young has infused the common onion with myth and greatness.

Karen read “Ode to Apples” by Pablo Neruda, which concludes, “I want to see/The whole/population/of the World/united, reunited,/in the simplest act of the land:/biting an apple.” We loved how Neruda combines the fall from Paradise through eating an apple and the possibility of reuniting the world through the same act.

Neruda was definitely the poet of the evening. AnnaLee read his “Ode to my Socks,” which concludes with the moral, “beauty is twice beauty/and what is good is doubly good/when it is a matter of wool in winter.” The ordinary becomes the beautiful and the sublime with a final nod to Keats’ Grecian Urn. AnnaLee gave us a link to Sharon Olds’ “Ode to a Composting Toilet,” a poem that takes Neruda’s odes on ordinary objects to an extreme.

Merrie closed the Circle with “Curiosity” by Alastair Reid, an ode to his own life, “Only the curious/have, if they live, a tale/worth telling at all.” Certainly all the poets we discussed had a tale worth the telling and we enjoyed hearing the tales together.

Mady couldn’t join us but emailed to say that if she had attended she would have brought Pablo Neruda’s “Ode to the Table” which begins with the process of creation:: “I work out my odes/on a four-legged table/laying before me bread and wine/and roast meat” and ends with “The world/is a table,” and “let’s eat!” Using the everyday Neruda sets his ode in motion to show us we can come together at the common table, if we choose to partake.

Larry entered two odes on our blog, both about birds. Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Paraphrase on Anacreon: Ode to the Swallow” compares the swallow building his nest with the love that “builds his nest in my heart.” In W. H. Auden’s “Short Ode to a Cuckoo” the narrator mentions his diary, “where I normally enter nothing but social/engagements and, lately, the death of friends, I/scribble year after year when I first hear you,/of a holy moment.”

Mark November 4th in your diary and remember to join us then. We look forward to reading and discussing your selections for our next program, Poetry and Politics.

Here’s the remaining fall lineup:
November 4: Poetry and Politics
December 9: Poetry and Drink

Try our blog. Click the little speech balloon next to the title of this notice and post your thoughts about the poems we discussed on October 15.

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 September 9 we met to discuss Poetry and Cats and Dogs. We had a nice turnout after our hiatus over the summer.

 Stan couldn’t join us but emailed to say that if he could have come he would have brought “The Song of Quoodle” by G.K. Chesterton. This fun poem is written from the point of view of the dog who laments man’s inability to smell, “And goodness only knowses/The Noselessness of Man.”

 Abigail began with “The Duel” by Eugene Field. She remembered this poem from her childhood and enjoyed that the cat and the dog were equals. Although the rumor is that burglars had stolen the gingham dog and the calico cat from the table, “the truth about the cat and pup/Is this: they ate each other up!” As one member remarked, it’s an anti-war message.

 Roger read E.B. White’s “Fashions in Dogs” humorously describing different breeds of dogs and ending, “Lots of people have a rug./Very few have a pug.”

 Phil brought William Blake’s “The Tiger,” which he had memorized in grammar school, “Tiger, tiger, burning bright/In the forests of the night,/What immortal hand or eye/Could frame thy fearful symmetry?” This led to a delightful conversation on the advantages of students memorizing poetry, which we fear they no longer do.

 Ellen brought Tony Hoagland’s “The Best Moment of the Night” in which the narrator attends a party where he has an encounter with a dog and wonders why no one notices that he, like the dog, is “still panting, and alive, and seeking love.”

 Terry read “A Cat, A Kid, and A Mom” by Shel Silverstein which questions why we want anyone to change: “‘Why can’t you see I’m a cat,’ said the cat,/‘And that’s all I ever will be?’” We laughed at this lovely evocation of how a cat, a kid and a mom can all misbehave.

 Gail read “A Dog’s Life” by Daniel Groves consisting of beautiful couplets and puns that tell of the day the dog was put down, “the very dog who, once would fight to keep/from putting down, despite our shouts, a shoe.” A discussion of how we have turned our dogs into slaves who are dependent on us followed. The expression “it’s a dog’s life” originally referred to how difficult a dog’s life was since the dog worked hard, ate scraps, and died young — unlike our dogs today.

 Mady brought Pablo Neruda’s “Ode to the Dog” in which a man and dog roaming the countryside until they are fused “in a single beast/that pads along on/six feet,/wagging/its dew-wet tail.” She could bring this poem next month as well!

 Hazel read “Little Puppy” from a Navajo American Indian relating the life of the Navajo woman and the little dog who shares her life of tending a flock and seeing, “The tall cliffs, the straight cliffs,/The fluted cliffs,/ Where the eagles live.” We all enjoyed this surprising and poem that in its simplicity painted such an evocative picture of the region.

 Karen read Bruce Dawe’s “Dogs in the Morning Light” relating to us the process of waiting for the bus each morning and seeing the same dogs, “They swirl about in bright-eyed bortices,/Whirl-pools of snap and sniff and pink-tongued grin.”

 Merrie read a poem AnnaLee had brought, “Myself with Cats” by Henri Cole, which describes both a relationship between humans and one between cats, “withholding his affection, he made me stronger. ” We were delighted to have more attention paid to cats who seemed to get short shrift during the evening.

 AnnaLee closed the Circle with Cathryn Essinger’s “My Dog Practices Geometry” which examines the personification of animals by poets, “Nor do I like the mathematicians who tell me/I cannot say, ‘The zinnias are counting on their/fingers,’ or ‘The dog is practicing her geometry.’” We discussed our tendency to personify animals and whether it is wrong.

 We look forward to reading and discussing your selects for our next program, Poetry and the Ode.

Here’s the remaining fall lineup:

October 14: Poetry and the Ode 
November 4: Poetry and Politics
December 9: Poetry and Drink

Bring a friend and widen the circle! And remember to blog with us 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.