We obviously love to talk about literature here at The Reader Organisation, so we were rather pleased and intrigued in equal measure to find this post on The Guardian Books Blog on books that make great conversation starters. An eclectic list, but definitely ones that get us talking, in one way or another.
This week’s atmospheric Featured Poem comes from D.H. Lawrence, and continues the weather theme from last week – after all, isn’t that the most typically British of conversation starters? It certainly stimulated some insightful thoughts amongst one of our community shared reading groups recently, and showed how literature can run deep beneath the surface, bringing out topics that may not be expected from the original starting point… The Project Worker facilitating the group tells us in more detail:
“The group shared their feelings about how they felt about thunder and lightning. Some were scared by it, some excited. One man, who often struggles with concentration and anxiety, picked out a fine detail that I had not noticed myself in the poem but was really struck by. ‘Why does it just say ‘down the sky’ – shouldn’t there be something else there – like ‘down from the sky so we know where it is coming from and which direction it’s going?’ His observation led to a great discussion about how unpredictable nature and life can be. Again some members felt scared by that thought, some excited.
The following week, one of the members who had spoken about being frightened by thunder and lightning and its unpredictability, brought in a padded envelope. ‘I’ve got something in there for you all to look at – now tell me what they are?’ Inside were what looked to me like two crystal type sand coloured rocks – fossils – call them what you will – and they were faceted with fine layers of stone. ‘Roses’, one member said, ‘They look like roses.’ ‘You’ve got it!’ the lady who had brought these marvellous objects in for us to look at exclaimed. She went on to tell the group about how the poem had reminded her of them. She had got them on a holiday years ago and spoke about how they are formed when the lightning comes down in the desert and hits the sand. ‘These are what are formed underneath and then people dig them up to sell to tourists. And do you know what they’re called? Desert Roses. Aren’t they beautiful?’ I loved the fact that the poem had brought back such experiences to the group member, and that she had carried on thinking about the poem after the group and brought things from her own life to think a bit more about it. I also loved the fact that she had moved from talking about being frightened about lightening and the unexpected to seeing what beauty might come out of it. And I also loved the fact that she wanted to share this with the group.”
Take a read, and see what gets you talking.
Storm in the Black Forest
Now it is almost night, from the bronzy soft sky
jugfull after jugfull of pure white liquid fire, bright white
tipples over and spills down,
and is gone
and gold-bronze flutters beat through the thick upper air.
And as electric liquid pours out, sometimes
a still brighter white snake wriggles among it, spilled
and tumbling wriggling down the sky:
and then the heavens cackle with uncouth sounds.
And the rain won’t come, the rain refuses to come!
This is the electricity that man is supposed to have mastered
chained, subjugated to his own use!