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The Circle Game

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3.82  ·  Rating details ·  800 ratings  ·  84 reviews
The appearance of Margaret Atwood's first major collection of poetry marked the beginning of a truly outstanding career in Canadian and international letters. The voice in these poems is as witty, vulnerable, direct, and incisive as we've come to know in later works, such as Power Politics, Bodily Harm, and Alias Grace. Atwood writes compassionately about the risks of love ...more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published June 1st 1998 by House of Anansi Press (first published 1964)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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 ·  800 ratings  ·  84 reviews


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Brittney Andrews (beabookworm)
Attagirl, Atwood - 3.5 STARS

I have nothing against this style of poetry, however, this book left me feeling pretty disoriented. It's a shame because--while I appreciated certain poems--I just couldn't appreciate this collection as a whole. I will say this though, when it comes to punctuation, stanzas, and tone: Margaret Atwood gets it!

Look, I don't expect everyone to like traditional poetry like I do, and I am also quite picky which is probably why I'm not super satisfied with this. That being s
...more
Matthew Mousseau
Dec 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
The children on the lawn
joined hand to hand
go round and round

each arm going into
the next arm, around
full circle
until it comes
back into each of the single
bodies again

They are singing, but
not to each other:
their feet move
almost in time to the singing

We can see
the concentration on
their faces, their eyes
fixed on the empty
moving spaces just in
front of them.

We might mistake this
tranced moving for joy
but there is no joy in it

We can see (arm in arm)
as we watch them go
round and round
intent, almost
studiou
...more
Steph
Why can't I appreciate poetry??? ugh. ...more
Ju$tin
Dec 20, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: poetry
booo *two thumbs down* booooooo
Delmy
Jun 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
Normally, I love Margaret Atwood but this one just gave me a headache. If you read this pace yourself, do not try to read it all in one sitting. I find that reading poetry should be done in stages, at least in my case.
...more
Félicie
Apr 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"(The photograph was taken
the day after I drowned.
I am in the lake, in the centre
of the picture, just under the surface.
It is difficult to say where
precisely, or to say
how large or small I am:
the effect of water
on light is a distortion
but if you look long enough,
eventually
you will be able to see me.)"
...more
Chinook
Nov 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: canada, poetry
I really enjoyed the title poem. There were also several that were about travelling west by train, across the prairies into the mountains. I think then there’s one set perhaps in a Stanley Park in Vancouver, amongst the totem poles. Having done that trip, I really enjoyed those. Generally I found them very symbolic, which is something I often find difficult about poetry.
Allie
Mar 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I initially rated this 3 stars, but given the number of poems I photocopied out of the book I am upping it to 4 stars.
Allie
Re-read this collection on the bus ride to the Women's March on Washington! ...more
Diane
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: canlit, 2017-books
I am not really one that appreciates poetry on the whole, though now and then I'll read something I like. I didn't really like this collection though I thought, it being Margaret Atwood, that I would. There's a fairly long foreward that explains the meaning of a number of the poems, what the writer is saying, how it fits the theme of the title of the book. I reckon if it has to be explained to me, I'm not going to "get" it. And I didn't. I'm admitting the fault lies entirely on me. I would read ...more
Carmen
Apr 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm still not sure I "get" poetry. But this wasn't a bad read. There were a few bits I really liked, and it wasn't too hard to get through. I'd probably need to spend more time analysing the poems than I did.

This was one of my favourite bits, from "Some Objects of Wood and Stone"

"and when we spoke /
we spoke /
the sounds of our voices fell /
into the air single and /
solid and rounded and really /
there /
and then dulled, and then like sounds /
gone, a fistful of gathered /
pebbles there was no point /
...more
laura
Dec 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
not perfect, but mountains of potential. im excited to read some of her later poetry.

and how about this:

It is not available to us
it
is not available, I said
closing my house against you.

I live in a universe mostly paper.
I make tents
from cancelled stamps.

Letters
are permitted but
don't touch me, I'd crumple

I said

everything depends on you

staying away.
...more
Bonny
While I've enjoyed much of Margaret Atwood's fiction, this volume of poetry left me feeling mainly puzzled and disoriented. Many of the poems interested me, but I didn't feel that I could relate or understand. I'm fairly sure the fault lay with this reader. ...more
Slaidey Valheim
Dec 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
I read some Margaret Atwood poetry when I was younger and it went entirely over my head. And by younger I mean late high school into university. Still, I wanted to give it another try.

What shines about Atwood's poetry collection, to me, is not the poetry. You can see through her choice of words what a poignant writer she is, in general, but it did not suite my taste for poems.

Some of the line breaks and punctuation disrupted flow more than created it, and it would have suited her to have long wo
...more
Sachin  Prabhu
It's collection of poems, dark yet engaging metaphors.
I liked couple of poems
...more
Ally
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published in 1964, this is Margaret Atwood's first commercially-published poetry collection. Her first, DOUBLE PERSEPHONE, was self-published in 1961. CIRCLE GAME explores womanhood, colonialism and indigenous peoples, environmentalism, and many other topics. The titular poem has seven parts, but Part 1 concerns a group of children who have joined hands and are going round-and-round in a circle, in a "ring around the rosie" fashion. They are singularly focused on their game, ignoring the natural ...more
Bookworm Adventure Girl
For my full review, please follow the link below:
https://www.bookwormadventuregirl.com...
...more
Pants
Jan 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, female-author
So there’s an episode of Parks and Recreation where the main character, Leslie Knope, criticizes slam poetry because it doesn’t rhyme. She goes on to say

anything can be a slam
poem
if you say it
like this.

I agree with Leslie’s comment despite liking slam poetry. That’s not a criticism of slam poetry so much as an admission of my own limitations as a reader when it comes to poetry. I never studied poetry in an academic setting, which means I often don’t understand what a poet is trying to convey th
...more
Alexa
Jan 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fab-15
There is so much richness hiding under the surface of these poems – for me, determining their meaning is like trying to make out forms under murky water – just one of Atwood’s own metaphors. Journeys to the interior of countries and personalities and relationships – I read these, and I read these and I read them again, and I know I’ve only barely made out their surface outlines.
Gabry
Aug 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was thinking the other day that there should be more ebooks for poetry and this was one of the books I managed to find from my library's ebook collection and I like Atwood and I want to read more of her so I decided to read this (not expecting much because I really don't get poetry that well) and holy smokes! I am in love. Atwood's poetry is the best! Gonna reread these poems right now.
...more
Jane
Feb 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
My fav poem:

"Letters, Towards and Away
i
It is not available to us
it
is not available, I said
closing my hours against you.
I live in a universe
mostly paper.
I make tents
from cancelled stamps.
Letters
are permitted but
don’t touch me, I’d
crumple
I said
everything depends on you
staying away.
ii
I didn’t want you to be
visible.
How could you invade
me when
I ordered you not
to
Leave my evasions
alone
stay in the borders
I’ve drawn, I wrote, but
you twisted your own wide spaces
and made them include me.
iii
You came easily
...more
Douglas
Nov 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
First of all, it is remarkable that Atwood was only 27 years old when this was published. Second, we got to listen to her at an author reading here in San Antonio last year and she was so intelligent, relatable, and clever. Her poetry has a sense of haunting eeriness to it at times, almost foreboding. Here are some of the poems and part of a poem that impressed me most.

The Explorers
The explorers will come in several minutes and find this island. (It is a stunted island, rocky, with room for onl
...more
Siddarth Gore
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The photograph was taken the day after I drowned.

Honest to God I don't understand poetry. Least of all, English.
What is it really? How do I make sense at all

The weapons
that were once outside
sharpening themselves on war
are now indoors
there, in the fortress,
fragile in glass cases;


If you miss the metre you miss the meaning
I read and reread till I got an inkling

among the shattered
memories of battles
only the cold jewelled symmetries
of the voracious eater
the voracious eaten


Then I had a notion th
...more
MonumentToDecency
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Get a cup of tea, a couple of your favourite biscuits, and snuggle down into your favourite chair, comfy snuggle blanket is optional. Positioning should be, preferably, by a window overlooking an autumnal garden or a lazy street scene, maybe some buses going by. Don't be outside, be where you can look out there. The weather should be cosy, absolutely not Summer.

Now, shut your eyes for a minute and imagine drowning. Under the weight of water, under relationships you should have left but didn't, u
...more
Susan Walker
The Circle Game is Margaret Atwood's first major collection of poems; the book won the 1966 Governor General's Award for poetry. The title poem was first published in a 1965 limited folio edition illustrated by Charles Pachter. It is an important work Atwood's ouevre, in that it shows the junction of the personal and the political, the darkness beneath innocent scenes, such as children playing a circle game, going round and round, arm through arm. "We might mistake this / tranced moving for joy ...more
Keerthi Vasishta
May 29, 2021 rated it liked it
This was a very inquistive set of poems, propped by unusual metaphors and sometimes circular structure. Circular structure as in the language in the poems is sometimes self-referential and at other times the image is a complete defiance of expectation, but the images themselves are built into a central image of the poem.
Atwood won a prize for this collection, after nearly 60 years, one must say it holds up quite well. It isn't as revolutionary as it once w0uld have been but then again, she possi
...more
Shirley
Nov 26, 2017 rated it liked it
i don't think i "get" poetry, especially margaret atwood, which requires a higher level of literary analysis than i am capable of. i'll revisit this one day, but based on my superficial/visceral first reading, these are some of the poems that stood out to me:

- this is a photograph of me
- evening trainstation before departure
- the city planners
- the circle game
- a sibyl
- migration: c.p.r.
- against still life
...more
Tyler Jones
I liked Buffam's introduction because it gives some hints on how the poems can be approached. This is a remarkably mature work for someone so young, ...well for anyone of any age actually. I was taken with the repeated use of layers of surface; the ground beneath the waves, treetops like islands, fish swimming where the birds once flew. Of course this writer would go on to write a novel called Surfacing. ...more
Jessica
Nov 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: z-read-in-2020
Pretty good! The first poem, "This is a Photograph of Me" was my favourite - spooky, poignant - so it started on a high note it didn't quite match throughout. That said, I like shape of her poems, and some grabbed my attention. I was surprised at how many seemed to dip into fantasy and sci-fi themes (but maybe I shouldn't be that surprised). Those that stuck with love and trauma and people watching seemed to be the stronger ones. ...more
mel
Aug 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
3.5/5
i enjoyed this! i have a tricky time rating atwood's poetry because i always find that there are poems of hers i adore and poems of hers that are just meh. my favourites from this book were "a meal", "man with a hook", and "letters, towards and away." i love the rawness of her work and i really can't believe this was published in 1966
...more
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FABClub (Female A...: The Circle Game: Poems discussion 10 20 Jan 14, 2015 08:00AM  

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Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.

Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than thirty-five volumes of poetry, childr
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29 likes · 11 comments
“and when we spoke /
we spoke /
the sounds of our voices fell /
into the air single and /
solid and rounded and really /
there /
and then dulled, and then like sounds /
gone, a fistful of gathered /
pebbles there was no point /
in taking home, dropped on a beachful /
of other coloured pebbles”
2 likes
“This Is a Photograph of Me
It was taken some time ago.
At first it seems to be
a smeared
print: blurred lines and grey flecks
blended with the paper;
then, as you scan
it, you see in the left-hand corner
a thing that is like a branch: part of a tree
(balsam or spruce) emerging
and, to the right, halfway up
what ought to be a gentle
slope, a small frame house.
In the background there is a lake,
and beyond that, some low hills.
(The photograph was taken
the day after I drowned.
I am in the lake, in the centre
of the picture, just under the surface.
It is difficult to say where
precisely, or to say
how large or small I am:
the effect of water
on light is a distortion
but if you look long enough,
eventually
you will be able to see me.)”
0 likes
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