Featured Poem: Procrastination by Edward Young

In every issue of The Reader, you’ll find Nellibobs – otherwise known as Brian Nellist – recommending ‘The Old Poem’; a poem pre-dating more contemporary times which, owing to the wealth of verse that is written each century, may have been unfortunately forgotten or consigned to history before its due. The latest issue features Edward Young – a poet whose name may not be immediately familiar, but mention the phrase ‘procrastination is the thief of time’ and you’re sure to have heard of him, as he was responsible for the immortal line. His major work was the blank-verse poem Night-Thoughts, describing his musings on death over a series of nine ‘nights’ – all of which are poems in their own right. Within Night-Thoughts, Young ponders the loss of his wife and friends, as well as opportunities and the status of life as being something fragile.

On a day where it can be too easy to put things to one side, why not have a read through the following – taken from Night-Thoughts, and which includes the most famous pondering on procrastination – and see if you feel inspired.

Procrastination

By Nature’s law, what may be, may be now;
There’s no prerogative in human hours.
In human hearts what bolder thought can rise,
Than man’s presumption on to-morrow’s dawn?
Where is to-morrow? In another world.
For numbers this is certain; the reverse
Is sure to none; and yet on this perhaps,
This peradventure, infamous for lies,
As on a rock of adamant we build
Our mountain hopes, spin out eternal schemes
As we the Fatal Sisters could out-spin,
And big with life’s futurities, expire.
Not ev’n Philander had bespoke his shroud,
Nor had he cause; a warning was deny’d:
How many fall as sudden, not as safe!
As sudden, though for years admonish’d home.
Of human ills the last extreme beware;
Beware, Lorenzo, a slow-sudden death.
How dreadful that deliberate surprise!
Be wise to-day; ’tis madness to defer;
Next day the fatal precedent will plead;
Thus on, till wisdom is push’d out of life.
Procrastination is the thief of time;
Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves
The vast concerns of an eternal scene.
If not so frequent, would not this be strange?
That ’tis so frequent, this is stranger still.
Of man’s miraculous mistakes this bears
The palm, “That all men are about to live,”
For ever on the brink of being born,
All pay themselves the compliment to think
They, one day, shall not drivel: and their pride
On this reversion takes up ready praise;
At least, their own; their future selves applauds;
How excellent that life they ne’er will lead!
Time lodg’d in their own hands is Folly’s vails;
That lodg’d in Fate’s to Wisdom they consign.
The thing they can’t but purpose, they postpone.
‘Tis not in folly not to scorn a fool,
And scarce in human wisdom to do more.
All promise is poor dilatory man,
And that through every stage; when young, indeed,
In full content we sometimes nobly rest,
Unanxious for ourselves; and only wish,
As duteous sons our fathers were more wise.
At thirty man suspects himself a fool,
Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan;
At fifty chides his infamous delay,
Pushes his prudent purpose to resolve;
In all the magnanimity of thought
Resolves, and re-resolves, then dies the same.

Edward Young

The Reader 60

Reader 60 coverThe first issue of The Reader in 2016 is here and it’s a very special one indeed as it heralds our sixtieth edition. There are plenty of diamonds to be found inside Issue 60, ranging from the brand new to the nostalgic, and the inclusion of our One -Pagers’ – the raw, powerful and punchy moments from works of literature that make us feel alive and which we often turn to at times in need of affirmation.

‘We seek the ‘lines of life’. When readers tear from books the words that suddenly matter to them, that is their own pre-poem, the beginning of their work as receivers and transmitters of suddenly felt meaning. Reader writers: apply within.’ – The Reader Writers, Philip Davis

You’ll still find plenty of broader content within Issue 60, including new poetry from Carol Rumens, Julie-ann Rowell, Claire Allen and Vidyan Ravinthiran. The big themes of change and the future – still on many a mind as the year is fresh – feature in Gill Blow‘s story ‘Ladies of the Soil’, and Raymond Tallis seeks perspective on life from the imagined vantage of his future death in an extract from his new book The Black Mirror.

Sitting alongside future thoughts are frequent glances back towards the past, as we republish poems by Les Murray and U.A. Fanthorpe from our earliest issues, and revisit our childhoods while keeping feet firmly in the present day as we talk to Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris, co-writers of the hugely popular Ladybird Books for grown-ups. Our second interview visits photographer Tim Booth, who talks about his stunning collection A Show of Hands – a collection of portraits of hands.

Marjorie Lotfi Gill features in The Poet on Her Work, turning distance that feels like helplessness into clarity as she writes on the subject of gun violence. Charlie Darby-Villis writes about reading poetry in a high security prison, and the poet David Constantine responds with his own recollection of visiting HMP Low Newton. More on the particular power reading can offer come from pieces by Drummond Bone, Ben Davis, David Abrahamson and Claire Sive.

All this alongside our Regulars and Recommendations – there’s much to celebrate in our latest milestone.

If you’re keen to make a literary resolution for the year ahead, yearly subscriptions to The Reader begin from £24, offering four issues of the magazine. You can also purchase your copy of Issue 60 for the price of £6.95. There’s the chance of winning a full set of the Ladybird Books for grown-ups within the issue, so don’t delay in ordering!

For more on The Reader, see our website.

 

45 Years In Another Country

In Another Country high res45 Years, recently released in cinemas, is on the surface a film about the span of time. Kate and Geoff Mercer are approaching their 45th wedding anniversary, living steadily and seeing out their retirement in a Norfolk village, taking each day up with their well-known routines. On one ordinary day, not long before their anniversary, Geoff receives a letter with the news that the body of his former girlfriend – missing after an accident on the Swiss mountains fifty years previous – has been found. The revelation proves to be devastating to the couple, and beneath the settled surface memories and the shadows of time gone by – and not experienced at all – rise up once more.

The film, starring acclaimed actors Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay as its leads, has received glowing reviews by critics and is being talked up as a potential candidate to be in line for a BAFTA next year, after already receiving plaudits for both actors at the Berlin Film Festival 2015. Seeing it on the big screen, it may be surprising to hear that it started life as a short story written by patron of The Reader David Constantine and was first featured in Issue 9 of The Reader magazine all the way back in 2001.

In Another Country – the original title of the story – subsequently became part of Under The Dam, Constantine’s 2005 collection of short stories, and reprinted as the title story in a new collection from Comma Press, released next week. The film adaptation alters a number of elements from the story, so even if you have already seen the film it’s well worth reading In Another Country to look at the tale from another perspective. Since its first publication in The Reader, the story has proved a popular, absorbing and thought-provoking choice in many of our shared reading groups – even as recently as this week, where one of our groups in London read it, and found the struggles of characters moving.

David Constantine has continued to be a regular contributor to The Reader in the past 14 years in both poetic and story form, most recently featuring in Issue 55. You can find our very own Brian Nellist a.k.a Nellibobs reading his ‘Mid-afternoon in another narrow bed’ on YouTube here.

His story Witness will be featured in The Reader’s upcoming anthology A Little, Aloud with Love, to be published in January 2016.

45 Years is currently showing at selected cinemas across the country.

The Reader 58 has arrived

Issue 58 of The Reader features Bill Bailey, Anna Woodford, Sarah Helm, Matthew Hollis, Salley Vickers and many more
Issue 58 of The Reader features Bill Bailey, Anna Woodford, Sarah Helm, Matthew Hollis, Salley Vickers and many more

If the heat is making you yearn to sit in the shade with some new reading material, then you’re in luck as Issue 58 of The Reader has arrived and it’s packed full of literary goodness to help you while away the long hot hours.

The contemporary very firmly combines with the classic this issue – new poetry comes from Matthew Hollis, Robert Etty, Claire Allen and Julian Flanagan with new fiction – the thought-provoking One, Two, Three, Four – from Greg Forshaw. To accompany the ever-popular Old Poem feature by Brian Nellist, we’re now introducing The Old Story to bring back a forgotten gem from the past, the first coming from Katherine Mansfield.

Bill Bailey talks to Fiona Magee about his own unique brand of comedy and why he’s not a fan of jokes, his relationship with language, ambitions to write a book and his belief in the importance of reading out loud.

“That’s the great power of literature: not all the information is there – you have to bring something as well to it to make it” – Bill Bailey

A trio of formidable female writers share their work: in this issue’s The Poet on Her Work, Anna Woodford discusses her poem ‘The Gender and Law at Durham Research Group’, looking at how two specialised languages – that of poetry and of law – respond to personal loss and the threatened loss of self. Salley Vickers‘ essay on The Winter’s Tale also examines loss – in particular the slow story of possible restoration after it – and extracts feature from Sarah Helm‘s If This Is A Woman, a scholarly and at the same time unswerving history of Ravensbruck, Hitler’s concentration camp for women.

All this, as well as a preview of the Storybarn, Liverpool’s new interactive story centre for children and families, by Jane Davis; tales from the Versewagon by Ian McMillan; five featured books about sisters from Angela MacMillan, and much more.

“Literature still serves all the purposes that oral storytelling once achieved, and remains essential to our wellbeing” – Joseph Gold, The Story Species

Make sure you order your copy now in time for your summer getaway – Issue 58 is available to order online now, via single copy or annual subscription, saving you 15% on the cover price over the year.

Visit our website for full details on purchasing: http://www.thereader.org.uk/magazine

 

Featured Poem: Humming-Bird by D.H. Lawrence

This week’s Featured Poem has recently been read in one of our shared reading groups in drug and alcohol rehabilitation settings, alongside the story The Sound Machine by Roald Dahl. Our project worker in the group explains how both texts have opened up ideas about perspective and how well we can really know a thing from an outside glance:

“The group really enjoyed the poem – indeed one man started to laugh in excitement of having his eyes opened a little into the possibility of other worlds and the possibility of there being other ways of looking at things. I think the poem has both degrees of humour and terror in it, but I have now gone on to use it a few more times and have found that whether group members like it or not, they do talk a lot about the value of thinking about how something else might look to others.”

Why not take some time out of your Monday morning to look at things from a different angle?

Humming-Bird

I can imagine, in some otherworld
Primeval-dumb, far back
In that most awful stillness, that only gasped and hummed,
Humming-birds raced down the avenues.

Before anything had a soul,
While life was a heave of Matter, half inanimate,
This little bit chipped off in brilliance
And went whizzing through the slow, vast, succulent stems.

I believe there were no flowers, then,
In the world where the humming-bird flashed ahead of creation.
I believe he pierced the slow vegetable veins with his long beak.

Probably he was big
As mosses, and little lizards, they say were once big.
Probably he was a jabbing, terrifying monster.
We look at him through the wrong end of the long telescope of Time,
Luckily for us.

D.H. Lawrence

As an extra treat, hear Humming-Bird being read by Nellibobs a.k.a Brian Nellist. If you’d like more of Nellibobs in person, he’ll be leading a course on T.S. Eliot: Fifty Years On at Calderstones Mansion House in Liverpool this June. This three-part course will explore some of Eliot’s classic works, including The Waste Land and The Four Quartets. For more details, see The Reader Organisation’s website: http://www.thereader.org.uk/courses

News from Nellibobs…

Nellibobs – a.k.a. Brian Nellist – is a busy man. When he’s not co-editing The Reader magazine, musing over the latest edition of Gardeners’ World, walking his beagle Argy or just making his way through a wealth of reading material, he can be found on YouTube with his special Friday Night Nellibobs videos, where he can be found pondering some of the greatest pieces of literature known to man (and indeed, woman).

If you’re an avid fan of the Godfather of The Reader Organisation, you’re in luck as he is about to host his latest Short Course for Serious Readers in Birkenhead. Far Places will embark on a journey of discovery through classic and contemporary literature to celebrate wanderlust as well as a sense of rootedness.

Far Places (Part 1) begins on Monday 29th September and runs every Monday from 10.30am-12.30pm at The Lauries Community Centre. The first part will focus especially on Homer’s Odyssey. Part 2 will be taking place in January 2015, discovering yet more great literature from authors including Shakespeare, Johnson, Graham Greene and Doris Lessing. Places on the course cost £65/£35 concessions (retired/student/unemployed/shared reading group member)there’s a special 10% discount available if you sign up for both September and January courses at the same time.

For more information and to book your place on Far Places with Brian Nellist, contact Jenny: jenniferkelly@thereader.org.uk or call 0151 207 7207. Details of all our upcoming courses can also be found on our website: http://www.thereader.org.uk/courses

And as a special treat, here’s the latest edition of Friday Night with Nellibobs – here you’ll find Brian discussing two poems by Edward Thomas:

 

Short Courses for September

MRL_5410-2Quick as a flash, September has arrived once more – and though the changeable weather might make you think otherwise, it’s generally the month that signals the start of Autumn. There’s also the fact that the holiday season is coming to a close, with schools swiftly starting up again and universities preparing for their next terms.

Though Summer may almost be over, we’re keeping its feelings going here at The Reader Organisation with the Short Courses for Serious Readers we have coming up this month in Liverpool and Birkenhead.

Far from being academic, our Short Courses for Serious Readers are specially designed for anyone who loves reading to enjoy getting to grips with texts that are a little more challenging in the company of fellow literature lovers. Over a day – or a number of weeks – we will enjoy great literature together, immersing into the texts and exploring together how reading good stuff can make us feel good too. There’s no need to do any homework – just turn up and be ready to discover.

For those of us feeling rather frazzled by the prospect of old routines reoccuring once more – or perhaps are just missing out the chilled out holiday vibe – find an escape at Read to Re-charge on Saturday 20th September, 10am-4pm at Calderstones Mansion House. Reading is a relaxing business, and we’ll be sharing the pure luxury that comes from reading for pleasure so you can have a truly idyllic time.
Places cost £30/£15 concessions: full information here

Perhaps you’re after a different pace altogether and are searching for a bit of adventure, but didn’t get the chance to jetset across the globe this summer (and let’s face it – round-the-world plane tickets aren’t cheap): you need look no further than our latest Short Course with Brian Nellist. Join The Reader magazine regular and Godfather of TRO to journey to some Far Places through some of the most classic works of literature. The first part of the two part course begins on Monday 29th September, 10.30am-12.30pm (every Monday for 10 weeks), with a special focus on Homer’s Odyssey. No need to go the extra mile when whole other worlds are at your fingertips.
Places cost £65/£35 concessions: full information here

Book your places on any of our Short Courses this coming Autumn or for the rest of the year by contacting Jenny Kelly: jenniferkelly@thereader.org.uk or call 0151 207 7207

You can find more information about any of our upcoming courses on our website. New dates for Read to Lead for 2015 have also been announced: http://www.thereader.org.uk/courses

What do you think? Reflection over the Bank Holiday

“The opportunity to discuss themes and points raised in the text and hearing other people’s take on things has enabled me to see other aspects I would not have discovered by myself.”

     – Group Member

Last week saw the start of Brian Nellist’s 6 week course ‘What Do You Think?’ which is being held at The Lauries Centre in Birkenhead. Readers have begun to explore stories where the ending is contradictory or unsettled, and doesn’t offer closure. Endings to stories like these often play on our mind long after we have read them, and start to make us reflect on our own surroundings and reality.

Have you had any moments of reflection over the Easter weekend? Perhaps you have been inspired over the bank holiday to delve into some classic literature you have always been meaning to read. Why not extend this interest by booking onto ‘What Do You Think?’ – it is not too late! Join Brian for our latest Short Course for Serious Readers and explore stories by Chekhov, James Joyce, Katherine Mansfield and many more fantastic authors.

The course starts again on Monday 28th April and runs for 4 more weeks after that on the 12th and 19th May, and the 2nd and 9th of June. The sessions run on Monday mornings from 10.30 am – 12.30 pm, and all texts plus refreshments are provided.

Short Courses for Serious Readers are for anyone who loves shared reading and getting a grip on great literature with like-minded company. Led by some brilliant readers, thinkers and teachers, these courses enable you to take a break from life for a while to immerse yourself in great literature. Brian’s courses on a Monday morning will allow you to regularly join together with a group, reading and feeling good in turn.

Places on the course cost £45 ; £25 concessions.

For more information on ‘What Do You Think?’ visit our website. You can book your place by contacting Literary Learning Coordinator Jenny Kelly on jenniferkelly@thereader.org.uk or by calling 0151 207 7207.

Short Courses for Serious Readers for the New Year

The last month of 2013 is racing along, with a New Year approaching fast – if you’re looking for a new start, why not discover classic literature in a different way, exploring it with like-minded company in relaxed surroundings? All this is available with The Reader Organisation’s Short Courses for Serious Readers – and we have not one but two special courses coming up for January.

short courseCan a Book Change your Life?
Saturday 18th January 2014, 10am-4pm, Calderstones Mansion House, Liverpool
Cost: £30 (including lunch)/£15 concessions

“I am lord of this moment’s change.” – Mordecai, in George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda

As a New Year approaches, resolutions and new beginnings are large in our minds. January is a time where ideas of change are all around us – but what do we really mean by the word ‘change’ and can a book help us to do this?
In this special day-long Saturday Short Course on 18th January at Calderstones Mansion House, The Reader Organisation’s Literary Learning Manager Casi Dylan will read a selection of prose and poetry which will help us to think about change and the forces it brings about.

Reading Anna Karenina with Brian Nellist
10 week course, starting Monday 6th January 2014, 10.30am-12pm, The Lauries Community Centre, Birkenhead
Cost: 
£65/£35 concessions 

“All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.”

anna-kareninaHave you always wanted to read Anna Karenina but never found the right time? Perhaps you’re a long-time fan but want the opportunity to explore it further? No matter what your relationship is with this classic novel, join co-editor of The Reader magazine and Godfather of TRO Brian Nellist to explore the saga. Over 10 weeks starting on 6th January in Birkenhead, you’ll be able to read Tolstoy’s classic work slowly, alongside a selection of poems and short stories, with a friendly group of readers.

Make it your New Year’s resolution to enjoy great literature and get 2014 off to a Readerly start. To book your place on either of these Short Courses for Serious Readers, contact Literary Learning Coordinator Sophie Johnson: sophiejohnson@thereader.org.uk or call 0151 207 7229

For all the information on what’s coming up on our Literary Learning calendar, see the Courses section of our website: http://www.thereader.org.uk/courses.aspx

Middlemarch with Brian Nellist

middlemarch-21Short Courses for Serious Readers: Middlemarch with Brian Nellist
Starts Monday 30th September 2013 for 10 weeks
10.30am-12.30pm, The Lauries Community Centre, Birkenhead

Has Middlemarch been on your must-read list for years? Want to give one of English literature’s finest classics a try but been put off by its length? Perhaps you’re a die-hard Eliot fan who would love the opportunity for a re-read…

No matter what your experience with the novel, get a new perspective on it by coming to our latest Short Course for Serious Readers this Autumn. Led by Brian Nellist, co-editor of The Reader and inspiration to Merseyside readers for many years, this special course offers the chance to read one of literature’s greatest sagas slowly, in the company of a congenial group of fellow readers. Over ten weeks you’ll get to enjoy Middlemarch alongside some specially chosen poems and short stories, and with Brian’s expert guidance dive deep into the best that literature can offer.

Sessions begin on Monday 30th September – the perfect way to get Autumn off to a Readerly start. The course costs £65 per 10 sessions or £35 for Get Into Reading members/students/pensioners/income support.

If you book on this and the accompanying Anna Karenina Short Course now, you’ll get a 10% discount on the price of both courses.

Texts, refreshments and good company will be provided!

To reserve your place on the Middlemarch Short Course for Serious Readers, contact Literary Learning Coordinator Sophie Johnson on sophiejohnson@thereader.org.uk or 0151 207 7207.

For information on all of our upcoming Courses, see our website.