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poetry circle

One Page Poetry Circle Archive


abigail burnham bloom one page poetry circle

Welcome to the Virtual One Page Poetry Circle!

Date: April 16, 2024
Theme: Poetry and Insects
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Ave, 3rd Fl. Or by email (see addresses below)

Find a poem! Show up! Or, send a poem by email!
We're back for the sixteenth spring season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people 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 began, participants have selected and discussed 1598 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

The One Page Poetry Circle has returned to the St. Agnes Library.
In addition, for those who are unable to attend, you will still be able to participate by email.

If you can make the April 16th meeting, we ask that you bring a poem with you on the theme of Poetry and Insects, with copies for others if you can.

If you're unable to attend, send us the poems you've selected with a comment on why you chose them. We'll share the poems with you in person, by email, and through our blog.

Insects, beloved or hated, form a large part of the natural world. British biologist J.B.S. Haldane once said that if a god had created all living organisms on Earth, then that creator must have an "inordinate fondness for beetles."

Abigail finds Ezra Pound's Cantos incomprehensible, but has always admired Canto 81:

  • What thou lovest well is thy true heritage
  • What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee
  • The ant's a centaur in his dragon world.
  • Pull down thy vanity, it is not man
  • Made courage, or made order, or made grace

AnnaLee was enchanted by a 2013 article in the Atlantic by Lafcadio Hearn, in which the author explores 2000 to 2500 year-old Greek insect poems. These lines, translated into free verse from a poem about a night cricket are attributed to Meleager, "one of the sweetest singers of the later Greek literature":

  • O thou cricket that cheatest me of my regrets, the soother of slumber;—O thou cricket that art the muse of ploughed fields, and art with shrill wings the self-formed imitation of the lyre, chirrup me something pleasant, while beating thy vocal wings with thy feet. How I wish, O cricket, that thou wouldst release me from the troubles of much sleepless care, weaving the thread of a voice that causes love to wander away! And I will give thee for morning gifts a leek ever fresh, and drops of dew, cut up small for thy mouth.

We met on March 19 to discuss Poetry and Rabbits.

Abigail loves Frank Mitalsky's "Rabbit in the Moonlight" which perfectly captures her own thrill when seeing a rabbit:

  • Moonlight is sharp until I see
  • A rabbit sitting quietly.
  • Then wall and fence and tree and burr
  • Grow soft and touch the night with fur.

Kai sent a poem by Ogden Nash where "what is left unsaid has every bit as much meaning as the words themselves. Because, you know. Rabbits!"

  • Here is a verse about rabbits
  • That doesn't mention their habits.

Kai also sent "The Rabbit" by Gary Snyder, "the American Zen-environmentalist-visionary poet": "The rabbit in this poem has a message to share for all mankind, on behalf of nature": "A grizzled black-eyed rabbit showed me/irrigation ditches, open paved highway/white line/to the hill./bell chill blue jewel sky/banners/Banner clouds flying,/The mountains all gathered."

AnnaLee was moved by Sarah Holland-Batt's "This Landscape Before Me," which uses the struggling flora and fauna to consider the effects of colonizing Australia: "But this morning I saw a young rabbit/hunched in brush and shadow./I saw its lesioned face, its legs too thin to scramble,/the blood-berry red and pink scab of its eye./It had caught the disease we brought here for it/and wanted a quiet place to die."

Roger enjoyed "Ballad of the Lost Hare" by Margaret Sidney (author of the Five Little Peppers) in which a hare seeks safety from many different animals. Finally, to escape dogs, he goes into a hole: "The dogs tumble up/To stare at his toes./They gnash their jaws,/And bewail their fate;/But to eat little Hare/Must wait—must wait!"

Gail selected Kentucky novelist and poet Elizabeth Madox Roberts' "The Rabbit," from The Golden Books Family Treasure of Poetry edited by Louis Untermeyer and illustrated by Joan Walsh Anglund. Appearing in the "Creatures of Every Kind" section, the poem "is clearly intended to appeal to children with its rhyming couplets and simple vocabulary." It begins:

  • When they said the time to hide was mine,
  • I hid back under a thick grape vine.

June sent "The Names of the Hare," a Middle English poem translated by Seamus Heaney. "It's a very strange and darkly witty list-poem that begins by asking for praise for the hare, follows with a long list of names that criticize, rather than praise, and ends with 'come to me dead/in either onion broth or bread.'" June reflects, "Perhaps the meaning is to give respect to all creatures, no matter how lowly, before you kill and eat them."

Yasmina brought "A Rabbit's Case" written by a young girl: "It hops, leaps and jumps/Through the grass collecting greens."

Fred read us "Thumper" by Scottish poet and scientist Colin Will whose work relates nature's ways of looking at the world. In the poem "Thumper" the poet shows us that what looks like cruelty may be compassion:

  • My pregnant neighbour came to the door
  • cradling her frightened little boy.
  • 'There's a baby rabbit in our garden.
  • It's been injured by a cat;
  • Can't walk; I think its eyes are out.'

Cate writes "After a frustrating search for a 'rabbit' poem, I was about to give up when I opened Joy Harjo's An American Sunset. Right in front of me was 'Rabbit Invents the Saxophone,' a rhythmically, often rhyming, fun story of Rabbit coming of age and coming into his own musicianship in New Orleans. She describes his commitment to finding and sharing his art along with the impact it has: "the next day, no one shows up to vote because they were sleeping: 'We danced through the night, and nobody fought.'"

Jo sent "Market Square" by A.A. Milne, a poem that tells us "that sometimes we go looking for what we want in the wrong place, without realizing it might be right in front of us, in our own little piece of the world." A child goes to buy a bunny but goes to all the wrong merchants. After he has spent his money, he walks on the common, "The old-gold common.../And I saw little rabbits/'Most everywhere!"

Daria read Jeffrey Battistoni's "When the Rabbit Met the Cheetah" a prose poem in which a rabbit and a cheetah seem to see each other in a new light. However, at the end, we are not sure what became of this relationship: "Despite the talent of the cheetah, she continued to lay there and watch with such flare in her eyes. Though the rabbit never understood why the cheetah showed such interest, he was quite thankful for her."

Larry sent his favorite rabbit poem by Lisel Mueller, "Small Poem About the Hounds and the Hares." "This poem addresses, via metaphor, a human trait, which is to memorialize, after the fact, societies that have been the victims of subjugation, to the point of genocide."

  • After the kill, there is the feast.
  • And towards the end, when the dancing subsides
  • and the young have sneaked off somewhere,
  • the hounds, drunk on the blood of the hares,
  • begin to talk of how soft
  • were their pelts, how graceful their leaps,
  • how lovely their scared, gentle eyes.

Carol reports that she "had no idea so many poems had been written about hares and rabbits. All kinds of poems for children, hunters, drinkers, singers, Easter celebrants, and here, one by a kind and kindred soul, a poem of friendship": "The Garden" by William Cowper: "If I survive thee I will dig thy grave;/And, when I place thee in it, sighing, say,/I knew at least one hare that had a friend."

For April's meeting, whether a poem concerns insects or not, choose a poem that has meaning to you. If you can attend the Poetry Circle, bring a poem, with copies for others if possible. If you're unable to attend, email your selection to one of us by April 16, with a brief comment of why you chose it. Can't locate a poem you want to send? Check out Poetry Foundation or poets.org.

In the meantime, please blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Spring 2024 Schedule
April 16, Poetry and Insects
May 21, Poetry and Growth

Abigail Burnham Bloom, abigailburnhambloom(at)gmail(dot)com
AnnaLee Wilson, annalee(at)kaeserwilson(dot)com

The One Page Poetry Circle sponsored by the New York Public Library is open to all. St. Agnes Branch Library is handicap accessible.


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