The One Page Poetry Circle (at St. Agnes Branch Library) met on March 6th to talk about Poetry and Enjambment. The word comes from the French meaning “legs straddling,” as the thought in a poem can flow beyond a line.

Abigail opened the circle with Núala Ni Dhomhnaill’s “The Language Issue,” her answer to why she writes in Irish (the poem was translated into English by Paul Muldoon) and begins, “I place my hope on the water/in this little boat/of the language, the way a body might put/an infant/in a basket of intertwined/iris leaves.” The poem reflects the flowing water with enjambment.

Roger read “The Poet of Bray” by John Heath-Stubbs, a humorous history of a poet’s changing political views. His excitement is captured with enjambment, “Back in the dear old thirties’ days/When politics was passion/A harmless left-wing bard was I/And so I grew in fashion.”

Hazel read Hamlet’s “To Be or Not To Be” speech from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. We were delighted to revisit this poem and examine how the thoughts move forward, “To be, or not to be—that is the question:/Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer/the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune/Or to take arms against a sea of troubles.”

Gail read “The Good Life” by the current American Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith, a poem that captures shifting images in a single sentence and is given in its entirety here:

When some people talk about money
They speak as if it were a mysterious lover
Who went out to buy milk and never
Came back, and it makes me nostalgic
For the years I lived on coffee and bread,
Hungry all the time, walking to work on payday
Like a woman journeying for water
From a village without a well, then living
One or two nights like everyone else
On roast chicken and red wine.

Ken read the start of “Endymion” by John Keats, with its many beautiful images created through enjambment, “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:/Its loveliness increases; it will never/Pass into nothingness; but still will keep/A bower quiet for us, and a sleep/Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.”

Christiana read Marianne Moore’s “The Fish,” which proceeds in ocean-like waves, “wade/through black jade/Of the crow-blue mussel-shells, one keeps/adjusting the ash heaps;/opening and shutting itself like/an/injured fan.”

Linda read Sylvia Plath’s “Edge,” written just six days before she died, in which the sentences run on into the next verse, “The woman is perfected./Her dead/Body wears the smile of accomplishment,/The illusion of a Greek necessity/Flows in the scrolls of her toga.”

Cate read Ted Kooser’s “Gyroscope,” which creates a beautiful image in one sentence, “I place this within the first order/of wonders: a ten-year-old girl/one on a sunny, glassed-in porch/in February, the world beyond/the windows slowly tipping forward into spring.” We noted that when you first read the line ending “the world beyond” there seems to be a natural stop, but the thought continues into the next line and the thought changes.

Susan read “This Is Just To Say” by William Carlos Williams in which a husband apologizes for eating the plums in the icebox that his wife was saving for breakfast, “Forgive me/they were delicious/so sweet/and so cold.”

AnnaLee read Archibald MacLeish’s “The End of the World” in which a mad circus disappears when the top blows off, “There with vast wings across the cancelled skies,/There in the sudden blackness the black pall/Of nothing, nothing, nothing—nothing at all.”

Please blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com. And join us for our next program at the St. Agnes Branch of the New York Public Library, 81st and Amsterdam Avenue, Manhattan. Dates and times follow:  

Spring 2018 Schedule
April 17: Poetry and Timing (5:30 – 6:30 pm)
May 8: Poetry and Choices (5:30 – 6:30 pm)

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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