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Welcome to the One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes (OPPC) blog.

We met on April 17th to talk about Poetry and Timing. The poems people brought were diverse in their interpretation, prompting everyone to agree that every poem written would fit the subject.

Abigail opened the circle by reading “Shadow March” by Robert Louis Stevenson, in which a child in bed describes the terrors of the night with lines that create a unique timing by alternating meters and rhymes, “The shadow of the balusters, the shadow of the lamp,/The shadow of the child that goes to bed — /All the wicked shadows coming tramp, tramp, tramp,/With the black night overhead.”

Roger read “Time and Life” by Algernon Charles Swinburne with its contrasting views of time, “Girt about with shadow, blind and lame,/Ghosts of things that smite and thoughts that sicken/Hunt and hound thee down to death and shame,” followed by the thought that “rest is born of me for healing.”

Hazel read Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Sunset” from Queen Mab, an intoxicating view of a particular time of day, “Whilst suns their mingling beamings darted/Through clouds of circumambient darkness,/And pearly battlements around/Looked o’er the immense of heaven.”

Gail read Robin Chapman’s “Time” in which the narrator’s 87 year-old neighbor rings the doorbell and proceeds to give an update on her life, “her car and driver’s license/are missing though she can drive perfectly/well, just memory problems, and her son/is coming this morning to take her up/to Sheboygan, where she was born.” The poem is also a wonderful example of Enjambment, which was last month’s theme.

Terry read Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 49” on the unreliability of love and the law of human nature, which begins, “Against that time, if ever that time come,/When I shall see thee frown on my defects,” and ends, “To leave poor me thou hast the strength of laws,/Since why to love I can allege no cause.”

Christiana read “The Listeners” by Walter de la Mare, with its enigmatic sense of bad timing, “But only a host of phantom listeners/That dwelt in the lone house then/Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight/To that voice from the world of men.”

Cate read Carolyn Kizer’s “Reunion” in which the narrator describes meeting a man she knew thirty years before, who had taught her, “inadvertently” that “The finest intellect can be a bore”…“I nod, I sip my wine, I praise your view,/Grateful, my dear, that I escaped from you.”

AnnaLee closed the circle with Edith Sitwell’s raucous “Sir Beelzebub” which begins “When/Sir/Beelzebub called for his syllabub in the hotel in Hell/Where Proserpine first fell” and ends “None of them come!” The poem was set to music by William Walton and recited by Barbara Hannigan.

Linda couldn’t attend the poetry circle but had chosen Langston Hughes’s “What Happens to a Dream Deferred”:

What happens to a dream deferred?
 Does it dry up
 Like a raisin in the sun?
 Or fester like a sore—
 And then run?
 Does it stink like rotten meat?
 Or crust and sugar over—
 like a syrupy sweet?
 Maybe it just sags
 like a heavy load.
 Or does it explode? 

We look forward to seeing you for Poetry and Choice, Tuesday May 8 at St. Agnes Branch Library in Manhattan. Choice will conclude the Spring Season of the One Page Poetry Circle. Look back here in the coming weeks for the Fall schedule and poetry themes.

In the meantime, please blog with us here at

See you soon —
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! OPPC_20150310_Matador

We met on March 10th to discuss poetry involving the color red. We had never chosen a color as a theme before and didn’t know how it would turn out. Some people found it difficult to select a poem, but we loved the poems read.

Abigail began with Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal” which involves a Victorian, and therefore subtle, depiction of passion as represented by the crimson petal, “Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves/A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.”

Roger read “Alone” by Edgar Allan Poe describing an adult looking back on his earlier self, “From childhood’s hour I have not been/As others were—I have not seen/As others saw.” Poe sees the demon from the red cliff while others see the blue of Heaven.

Gail read Anne Stevenson’s “To My Daughter in a Red Coat,” “You come so fast, so fast./You violate the past,/My daughter, as your coat dances.” Stevenson depicts the whirl of the coat against a background of fallen brown leaves and old women on park benches.

Anne read Marcia F. Brown’s “Pomegranate” with its sensual description of the inside of the luscious fruit: “near-pulsing jewels—a red/like blood or love/that suddenly exists/for you alone.”

Ellen read Roald Dahl’s “Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf.” In this version of the fairy tale the heroine ends up in quite different apparel, “No silly hood upon her head./She said, ‘Hello, and do please note/My lovely furry wolfskin coat.’”

Ralda read “She at His Funeral” by Thomas Hardy in which the female narrator watches others at her sweetheart’s funeral in proper funeral attire, “But they stand round with griefless eye,/Whilst my regret consumes like fire!”

AnnaLee completed the circle with Linda Hogan’s “The History of Red,” which takes us on a journey of multiple creations using images of the primordial color red, “and then the human clay/whose blood we still carry/rose up in us/who remember caves with red bison/painted in their own blood./after their kind.”

Larry posted Gillian Clarke’s “The Rothko Room” on our blog. This poem describes the effect of the paintings in this museum where “The Indian keeper nods to sleep, marooned/in a trapezium of black on red.”

We look forward to reading and discussing your selections for our next program, Lyric, on April 14th. Bring a friend and widen the circle!

Spring Schedule:

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.

The One Page Poetry Circle will resume September 10 for a discussion of Poetry and Gardening.

The garden is a favorite literary and poetic theme that goes back to ancient times. In the Biblical narrative of Genesis, Adam and Eve are the original gardeners who cultivate in innocence until they fall from grace and Adam is sentenced to work by tGardening002he sweat of his brow. When actually working in our gardens, we are more likely to think of Candide at the end of Voltaire’s novel of that name, cultivating his garden, not as a punishment, but more as a way to live on earth. In this we see fall as a joyous time for the harvesting of food from gardens, a time of plenty before winter begins.

With the garden in mind, Robert Louis Stevenson created metaphoric flowers to be plucked from his “Child’s Garden of Verses.” In “Poetry” Marianne Moore described poems as “imaginary gardens with real toads in them,” while in “Talking Back to the Mad World,” Sarah C. Harwell refuses to garden but wishes to leave the tending to nature:

Talking Back to the Mad World

I will not tend. Or water,
pull, or yank,
I will not till, uproot,

fill up or spray.

The rain comes.
Or not. Plants: sun-fed,
moon-hopped, dirt-stuck.

Watch as flocks
of wild phlox

appear, disappear. My lazy,
garbagey magic
makes this nothing

I love
the tattered
camisole of
nothing. The world
runs its underbrush
course fed by
the nothing I give it.

Wars are fought.
Blood turns.
Dirt is a wide unruly room.

—Sarah C. Harwell

Make a comment about this poem or any other of your choice on the subject of Gardening. And if you can, please join Abigail Burnham Bloom and AnnaLee Wilson on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, 5:30 – 6:30 pm, at 444 Amsterdam Avenue, 3rd floor, for an hour of authentic conversation about poetry through the examination of works of established poets.

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.