Masterclass: In Memoriam

In Memoriam by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Masterclass with Clare Williams

10.30am – 3.00pm, Wednesday 4th November
19 Abercromby Square, Liverpool, L69 7ZG
£30 (lunch & refreshments included)
Concessions available

Let Love clasp Grief lest both be drown’d,

Let darkness keep her raven gloss:

Ah, sweeter to be drunk with loss,

To dance with death, to beat the ground

After the death of her beloved husband Prince Albert, Queen Victoria remarked that: “Next to the Bible, In Memoriam is my comfort”. Today, this poem continues to captivate the reader’s imagination as it interrogates the universal themes of life and death, courageously confronting the experience of grief and loss.

In words, like weeds, I’ll wrap me o’er,

Like coarsest clothes against the cold;

Words often fail us in times of bereavement but for Tennyson they provided his one source of comfort. His writing gives us a language by which we can possess and make sense of our suffering; it takes us on an epic philosophical journey to search for resolution to the cycle of grief, pain, and doubt.

We invite all readers who are interested in sharing something of this journey to join Clare Williams in this Masterclass. We highly recommend that you read In Memoriam before hand, but a selection of key passages will be available on the day.

To book your place contact Casi Dylan on or download a booking form from our wesbsite.

Spaces Available on New Accredited Training Course

There are spaces available on a new ‘Flexi’ Accredited Get Into Reading Facilitator Course which will be held at Haslington Library, East Lancashire. The course will provide you with all the tools and practice necessary to establish and run your own Get Into Reading groups for your local community or workplace.

As with all Read to Lead training courses, we are looking for candidates who are passionate about the transformative power of books and who can demonstrate a powerful willingness to develop a wide range of personal reading. You should be a good team member, self-motivated and, preferably, have had the kind of experience which will enable you to research, design and deliver reading programmes for community groups, people with multiple deprivations, or those with ill-health.

The course costs £800 and is scheduled run for six sessions on the following dates: 22nd September; 29th September; 6th October; 20th October; 17th November; 8th December. If you can attend all these session, and feel that you can satisfy our criteria, please contact Casi Dylan on or 0151 794 2830.

Masterclass: Poems that Pack a Punch

Poems that Pack a Punch
with Kate McDonnell, Get Into Reading Project Manager
17th June, Liverpool

Poetry has a way of taking life by the throat. – Robert Frost

Roll your sleeves up and come with The Reader Organisation as we grapple with poems dealing with some of life’s big issues: Love, Suffering, Selfhood, the search for Happiness…

This session will build your confidence in reading poetry with a group, as well as providing the opportunity to explore some of these issues on a personal level, in a safe environment.

This is the only place I can talk about things that really matter

This is what a Get Into Reading group member once said after a particularly memorable poetry session, and if indeed, as Robert Frost reckoned, that ‘poetry has a way of taking life by the throat’, it’s clearly a very useful thing to have on your side…

Kate McDonnell is Manager of The Reader Organisation’s Get Into Reading project on Merseyside and her talent both as a group facilitator and reader of poetry is appreciated by her colleagues and group members alike.

To attend Kate McDonnell’s ‘Poems that Pack a Punch’ Masterclass, please download the booking form: PDF / Word.

For more information, contact Casi Dylan (call 0151 794 2830 / 07870 106 745).

Red Bread Rose

Casi Dylan, Read to Lead Training Manager, writes to tell us of her experiences in Parc Prison:

I just got out of prison. Parc Prison, near Bridgend, south Wales. A prison for men in the land of my fathers. And I’m thinking in a way that has never been quite so pertinent about The Big Issues: the nature of freedom and confinement and justice and things like that. And education. And in my hand, I’m playing with a rose, an unexpected parting gift. A bright red rose made of bread and glue.

This flower (kind after-thought rather than romantic gesture) was given to me by my guide for the afternoon, Phil Forder, Arts Intervention Manager at Parc Prison. Eager to investigate the possibilities of developing Get Into Reading at Parc, he had invited me over to get a feel for the arts and education programme that he and his colleagues run, as well as for the prison environment itself. It’s a large institution, keeping over 1000 men and boys up on a green hill above a grey town. It reminds me of a big gym, full of echoes, testosterone and tattoos.

Phil takes me to the education department where men improve their English and maths, and to the speckled art rooms where youngsters make paintings and pots to send home to mum. He takes me to the library, where Sian the librarian tells me about her attitude to reading groups, which is wonderfully similar to that of The Reader Organisation‘s.

It’s very relaxed – we always have some tea on the go. We’ve read some great books: White Teeth, Of Mice and Men. They bring out some good stuff. One of the prisoners told us the other day that he loves Classical music. He’d never admit to that on his wing, mind

She is relieved to hear that others with a similar ethos are developing reading groups ‘on the outside’; unsurprisingly, one can feel a bit isolated inside Parc.

‘We have to get Get Into Reading going in here’, I think.

Then Phil takes me to see a cell in B Wing. Young offenders. The air is full of after-shave, the walls tacked with FHM. The curtains incongruously frilly.

‘It’s very small in here,’ I think.

And at the end of the afternoon, Phil hands me the bread rose. ‘A prisoner made it,’ he says. ‘He refused to leave his cell for weeks, didn’t come to classes, but presented a bunch of these to me one day. He’s made it from bread and glue, squeezed it flat and folded it into this. It’s quite beautiful isn’t it?’

It is. And sad. Somehow appallingly sad that from his daily portion, behind a thick door, an invisible inmate fashioned such immaculate fragility. Having hardened myself to what I had expected to encounter at Parc, I had not realised how vulnerable I was to such softness. And yet, from my experience with the revelations that Get Into Reading often inspires, I should have known to expect such human surprises. And I should be happy, not sad, in the thought that there is fertile ground for Get Into Reading in a Parc where bread roses grow.

Convention for Reading Groups

Books on the Broad are organising a one-day event entitled: “The Readers’ Voice: A Meeting for Readers and Readers Groups”.

The full programme of talks, workshops, debates, and other events is led by fifteen expert speakers – including our very own Casi Dylan (Read to Lead Training Manager) –  who not only share a passion for reading, but the desire to bring its benefits to the community. Groups with a reading list or project to share are invited to bring these to the attention of the meeting. For more details, please click here.

The event is to be held at Jesus College, Oxford, on Saturday 4th April 2009. Entry is £20, and includes lunch, refreshments, and access to the full programme.

Tickets can be obtained from the Oxford Playhouse Box Office on 01865 305 305 or

Masterclass with Brian Nellist


Change of date: Tuesday 7th April

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Masterclass with Brian Nellist: Book One of The Excursion by William Wordsworth (otherwise known as ‘The Ruined Cottage’ or ‘Margaret’)

10.30am – 3.00pm, Tuesday 24th March, Tuesday 7th April
19 Abercromby Square, Liverpool, L69 7ZG

Come to read and discuss ‘Margaret’ with other readers, in the company of The Reader Organisation’s great literary-lover Brian Nellist. ‘The Ruined Cottage’ is a story of human loss and pain so enormous that it seems as though it would totally destroy you. In fact, it does the opposite. The poem calls on, even develops, a sympathy and sensitivity to suffering that means to call it tragedy, as Brian says, is not the right response…

consolation springs,
From sources deeper far than deepest pain.

With nearly fifty years experience teaching the reading of literature, Brian Nellist brings serious wisdom, deep attention and an engaging manner to bear on one of William Wordsworth’s greatest poems.

This is a wonderful opportunity for Get Into Reading practitioners and lovers of literature alike to hone their skills and to spend quality time with the tools of our trade: great company and great literature.

To book your place, please complete the booking form (download as a Word document or a PDF) as soon as possible and return, with full payment of £30, to the noted address. Early booking is advisable. Contact us if you have any further queries.

Read to Lead Workshop: Birmingham

The Reader Organisation is going to Birmingham for a one-day Read to Lead Workshop on Wednesday 25th February, to spread the word about Get Into Reading and the Reading Revolution. If you’re from the Birmingham area and are excited by literature’s capacity to engage with people on a deep and personal level, we want to hear from you.

This one-day training course will give you the opportunity to:
• Develop your understanding of TRO and Get Into Reading
• Take part in a Get Into Reading group to experience shared reading aloud
• Observe the principles of our work in action and learn specialised reading and group facilitation techniques
• Meet people from your part of the country who are interested in Get Into Reading
• Discuss strategies for developing Get Into Reading in your area
• Learn more about Get Into Reading accreditation and the University of Liverpool’s ‘Reading in Practice’ MA

For more information on this workshop, or any of our courses throughout the country, including our Get Into Reading Accredited Facilitator training, click here or contact Casi Dylan, Training Manager, on or 0151 794 2291.

Join the Reading Revolution!

London Reading and Health Event

The Reading Cure: A Conversation
Literature: Medicine Chest of the Soul

On Wednesday 14th January, The Reader Organisation and The Lancet hosted an event at the Wellcome Collection, London to open up a discussion about the relationship between reading and health. You can read about the event, see the photographs and download an audio recording on our website.

We have had some post-event thoughts and feel that we need to discuss the importance of reading aloud further.

“A difficulty is a light”, Valéry.

We can’t stress enough how important the reading aloud aspect of Get Into Reading is!

When a book, or poem, is read aloud, it comes to life as a physical presence in the group. This coming to life allows people to engage with the text more readily: it is opened up and shared. Even if the text is difficult or not everyone in the group decides to read aloud, everyone is together on the same page, at the same time and assisting one another to get through it. This makes the experience not only a social one but it also turns a scary challenge into an enjoyable, shared one.

We would like to discuss this further – we are in the process of setting up a wiki for this purpose, we’ll notify you when this is up and running – and hope that within the next few months we will be able to host a further seminar specifically on the subject of reading aloud and its importance for health and wellbeing.

Please let us know if this would be of interest to you. If there are any further issues around reading and health that you would like to see investigated in greater depth, we would welcome your suggestions for other seminars in the future.

Interested in becoming a Get Into Reading facilitator? Visit our Read to Lead Training pages to find out how.

Read to Lead Training 2009

The Reader Organisation has launched its 2009 Read to Lead Training programme, sharing our expertise so that together we can get the whole nation to enjoy and engage with literature.

The first Read to Lead Accredited Training course of 2009 is underway this week, with twenty keen students from all over the country hoping to become accredited Get Into Reading facilitators and spread the Reading Revolution around the UK. We’re hoping that the course will build on the success of last September’s residential, which inspired comments such as these from our trainees:

100% better than any professional course I have ever attended.

I have gained so much from this course – most importantly INSPIRATION!

We deliver a varity of training courses and consultancy services throughout the UK, which are open to people from all professional and social backgrounds: a love of books, a belief in the social value of reading, and a passion to share this vision are our criteria.

This course has been brilliant – other professional courses pale in comparison. This is the first time I have ever felt so enthused after a training course, with a real sense that I have learnt something which can make a difference.

Our next Masterclass: Half-day School will be held in Liverpool on 28th January and the next Read to Lead: One-day Workshop will be held in Birmingham on 25th February, so there’s no time to lose! Visit our training pages for a list of upcoming courses, training information and booking details, or contact Casi Dylan, Training Manager.

Why not make becoming a part of our Reading Revolution the New Year resolution that actually lasts?