Penny Readings 2015: Northern powerhouses, Astounding Broccoli Boys and Dickensian cheer

Maxine 1 - Caro Rowland
Maxine Peake on stage at the Penny Readings 2015 (credit: @CaroRowland on Twitter)

Last night, St George’s Hall in Liverpool was full to the brim with festive spirit as the Penny Readings 2015 took place. For just over two hours, the glittering Concert Room – which Charles Dickens himself deemed as “the finest room in the world for reading” when he read on the very same stage – saw the sell-out show wow the audience with seasonal literature, music and entertainment, all for the price of just one penny a ticket.

Our star readers came in the form of ‘Northern powerhouses’ Maxine Peake and Shaun Evans, delighting and moving us in equal measure with their choice of readings. We were treated to a double helping of D.H. Lawrence with extracts from Sons and Lovers and The Rainbow, perfectly brought to life by Maxine’s dulcet tones, with her take on the Morel’s family Christmas awaiting the arrival of eldest son William back from London rightly called ‘captivating‘ by one of our many audience members – a feeling that was surely shared by the whole room. The Dickensian spirit of the Penny Readings was in full effect with Shaun’s piece from David Copperfield, which saw the title character in particularly high spirits, and his characterful reading of the ‘devilish good fellow’ brought frequent gales of laughter from the crowd. Maxine ended with a poignant Christmas piece – The Oxen by Thomas Hardy – although arguably her most challenging role of the evening came when she was called upon to draw the famous Reader Raffle, which had some incredible prizes on offer including a Kiehl’s gift-set, tickets to The Alice Experience and The Beatles Story, hampers from Asda and LEAF, Independent Liverpool cards and a signed authenticated picture of Liverpool FC midfielder Phillipe Coutinho!

Shaun Evans reading from Dickens (credit: @Sbarber5bp on Twitter)
Shaun Evans reading from Dickens (credit: @Sbarber5bp on Twitter)

Another memorable performance came from the ever-entertaining Frank Cottrell Boyce, who read from his latest hit novel The Astounding Broccoli Boy after regaling us with tales from his schooldays and in particular the case of a nun who may or may not have been concealing a Dalek status…Frank also pleased the crowds by signing copies of the book in the foyer afterwards. Angie MacMillan treated us to an exclusive preview of the latest in the A Little, Aloud series – A Little, Aloud With Love, due to be published in early 2016, and the Christmas cheer was brought back into proceedings with special guests Adele, Madison and Josh from Norman Pannell Primary School telling us the story of How The Grinch Stole Christmas. As ever, Phil Davis invoked the festive spirit with the traditional reading from A Christmas Carol, bringing the scene from the Cratchits’ dinner table to life.

Musical interludes were brought courtesy of The Ukulele Uff & Lonesome Dave Trio with their set of singalong classics including the love song for insects Never Swat A Fly and Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies, the super-talented piano player – and composer! – Evie Gill-Hannan, and the AINE Gospel Choir, finalists from the BBC Songs of Praise Gospel Choir of the Year 2014, who led the whole cast and crowd in a soulful rendition of Lean On Me to bring this year’s proceedings to a rousing close.

It was a real compliment for our supporters Publiship to call this year’s show the ‘Best Penny Readings ever’ and the #PennyReadings hashtag on Twitter was full of similar highlights from those in attendance:

Absolutely loved our first at . Thanks for organising a great evening! 🙂

all sounding/looking beautiful for the magical

Loved listening to made me laugh and nearly cry at end of reading…

Thanks and for a fab night.

Shaun Evans and Maxine Peake backstage with staff from Whitefield Primary School
Shaun Evans and Maxine Peake backstage with staff from Whitefield Primary School

With so much festivity and goodwill in abundance, we like to think that Dickens would be proud.

All that is left to say is a massive thank you to all of our performers, supporters, stall holders including News From Nowhere, Royden Revolve Rotary Club and The Reader Cafe, staff members and everyone in attendance for making the Penny Readings 2015 so memorable. Here’s to next year! In the meantime, to borrow a phrase or two from Bob Cratchit:

“A merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!”

Russia Reads Aloud

war and peace coverAnyone who has taken on the challenge of reading War and Peace will know that it’s quite the literary endeavour, and it is with admiration and amazement that we heard about a marathon four-day public reading of Tolstoy’s classic across Russia that has been happening this week.

Led and coordinated by Tolstoy’s great-great-granddaughter Fekla Tolstaya, the reading began on Tuesday morning and by its conclusion at the end of today will have involved over 1,300 people in more than 30 cities across the country, and will have reached even more both nationally and worldwide as the readings are being streamed by the Russian state television channel Kultura and online.

The collection of readings were characterised by their democratic nature, with more than 6,000 people applying to be part in the 60 hour collective. Everyone from schoolchildren and professors to politicians and library-goers have been involved, reading a two-to-three minute excerpt from the novel each. With more than half a million words to cover, that’s a lot of readers on board!

“For me it shows how we are all equal when we speak about literature, when we speak about books – everyone can find something for themselves in this book,” says Fekla. “People argue with each other when they speak about politics, [but] culture, our cultural heritage, great Russian literature – this is the place where we all unite.”

The marathon reading is out of this world – and we can say that quite literally, as cosmonaut Sergei Volkov is taking part reading his extract from the International Space Station.

Public reading of great pieces of literature have seen a revival recently, in the UK as well as abroad. This summer, the Almeida Theatre and British Museum brought over sixty actors and artists together to read The Iliad to audiences that totalled 50,000 across the world, following it up with a similar reading of The Odyssey last month. Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick was also performed in its entirety by writers, actors, comedians and members of the public at the Southbank Centre – and similarly to the reading of War and Peace, involved Herman Melville’s great-great-granddaughter. With this year’s Penny Readings taking place this weekend – with Maxine Peake and Shaun Evans appearing as star readers – as well as our Shared Reading groups happening across the country each week, it’s great to know that we’re in such good company.

Perhaps 2016 will see yet more marathon reading attempts? We’ve read quite a few lengthy novels in our Shared Reading groups including Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens and Tolstoy’s other epic, Anna Kareninacould one of them be next? If anyone involved in the War and Peace reading over in Russia wants to get in touch with us, please do – and together we’ll lead a global read aloud fashion!

The Reader 59

Reader 59 cover-1In need of something to bring a warm glow into the lengthening Autumn nights? The latest issue of The Reader is here to offer a wealth of new fiction and poetry, alongside a range of illuminating essays and thought pieces – and the bright cover artwork by Michael Troy is sure not to get lost amongst the gloom.

In Issue 59, you’ll find new work from two big names and returning contributors to The Reader. Blake Morrison introduces his poetry collection, Shingle Street, and the profoundly moving first chapter of The Life-Writer by David Constantine offers an enticing insight into the new novel from the author of In Another Country, the inspiration for the recent award-winning film 45 Years.

The Poet on His Work features Jonathan Edwards and his poem Song, where the low culture – ‘the earthy, the musical, the ordinary, the real’ – sits alongside the poetic:

“This poem took ten years to write. It took a few hours. I’m not the first boy in the history of the world to write a poem about a girl.” – Jonathan Edwards on Song

Marjorie Lofti Gill, Ian Tromp and Mary Maher complete the poetry line-up.

Dr Steve Mowle, a partner at Hetherington Family Practice and Associate Director for GP Education for Inner South West London, talks to Fiona Magee about life as a GP, the long-term relationship between patients and doctors and how reading within a group is part of ‘social prescribing’.

Tim Parks uses Chekhov to rebel against the problem of ‘biographical fallacy’; the ‘poet’s poet’ F.T. Prince comes to our attention courtesy of Anthony Rudolf; Brian Nellist recommends a Neglected Novel – as well as offering The Old Poem – and there are more from The Reader regulars, including Ian McMillan and Enid Stubin.

Curl up by the fire and order your copy, available to order from the website. If you’re on the search for Christmas present suggestions, a year’s subscription to The Reader – giving you four issues – costs £24 in the UK and £36 abroad.

Featured Poem: Inferno, Canto 1 by Dante Alighieri

Today sees the anniversary of the death of the Medieval poet Dante Alighieri, better known as Dante. His defining work, La Commedia – or The Divine Comedy as is more commonly referred to – is considered one of the greatest works in literature in its journeys through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio) and Paradise (Paradiso), and was largely autobiographical.

Though over 700 years old, the opening lines to the epic work – translated here by the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – remains ones that are universal to this day: who hasn’t found themselves in a place or time of darkness at one point in their lives, with ‘the straightforward pathway’ lost? It is here that a journey through literature – and self-discovery – begins.

Inferno, Canto 1

Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.

Ah me! how hard a thing it is to say
What was this forest savage, rough, and stern,
Which in the very thought renews the fear.

So bitter is it, death is little more;
But of the good to treat, which there I found,
Speak will I of the other things I saw there.

I cannot well repeat how there I entered,
So full was I of slumber at the moment
In which I had abandoned the true way.

But after I had reached a mountain’s foot,
At that point where the valley terminated,
Which had with consternation pierced my heart,

Upward I looked, and I beheld its shoulders,
Vested already with that planet’s rays
Which leadeth others right by every road.

Then was the fear a little quieted
That in my heart’s lake had endured throughout
The night, which I had passed so piteously.

And even as he, who, with distressful breath,
Forth issued from the sea upon the shore,
Turns to the water perilous and gazes;

So did my soul, that still was fleeing onward,
Turn itself back to re-behold the pass
Which never yet a living person left.

After my weary body I had rested,
The way resumed I on the desert slope,
So that the firm foot ever was the lower.

And lo! almost where the ascent began,
A panther light and swift exceedingly,
Which with a spotted skin was covered o’er!

And never moved she from before my face,
Nay, rather did impede so much my way,
That many times I to return had turned.

The time was the beginning of the morning,
And up the sun was mounting with those stars
That with him were, what time the Love Divine

At first in motion set those beauteous things;
So were to me occasion of good hope,
The variegated skin of that wild beast,

The hour of time, and the delicious season;
But not so much, that did not give me fear
A lion’s aspect which appeared to me.

He seemed as if against me he were coming
With head uplifted, and with ravenous hunger,
So that it seemed the air was afraid of him;

And a she-wolf, that with all hungerings
Seemed to be laden in her meagreness,
And many folk has caused to live forlorn!

She brought upon me so much heaviness,
With the affright that from her aspect came,
That I the hope relinquished of the height.

And as he is who willingly acquires,
And the time comes that causes him to lose,
Who weeps in all his thoughts and is despondent,

E’en such made me that beast withouten peace,
Which, coming on against me by degrees
Thrust me back thither where the sun is silent.

While I was rushing downward to the lowland,
Before mine eyes did one present himself,
Who seemed from long-continued silence hoarse.

When I beheld him in the desert vast,
“Have pity on me,” unto him I cried,
“Whiche’er thou art, or shade or real man!”

He answered me: “Not man; man once I was,
And both my parents were of Lombardy,
And Mantuans by country both of them.

‘Sub Julio’ was I born, though it was late,
And lived at Rome under the good Augustus,
During the time of false and lying gods.

A poet was I, and I sang that just
Son of Anchises, who came forth from Troy,
After that Ilion the superb was burned.

But thou, why goest thou back to such annoyance?
Why climb’st thou not the Mount Delectable,
Which is the source and cause of every joy?”

“Now, art thou that Virgilius and that fountain
Which spreads abroad so wide a river of speech?”
I made response to him with bashful forehead.

“O, of the other poets honour and light,
Avail me the long study and great love
That have impelled me to explore thy volume!

Thou art my master, and my author thou,
Thou art alone the one from whom I took
The beautiful style that has done honour to me.

Behold the beast, for which I have turned back;
Do thou protect me from her, famous Sage,
For she doth make my veins and pulses tremble.”

“Thee it behoves to take another road,”
Responded he, when he beheld me weeping,
“If from this savage place thou wouldst escape;

Because this beast, at which thou criest out,
Suffers not any one to pass her way,
But so doth harass him, that she destroys him;

And has a nature so malign and ruthless,
That never doth she glut her greedy will,
And after food is hungrier than before.

Many the animals with whom she weds,
And more they shall be still, until the Greyhound
Comes, who shall make her perish in her pain.

He shall not feed on either earth or pelf,
But upon wisdom, and on love and virtue;
‘Twixt Feltro and Feltro shall his nation be;

Of that low Italy shall he be the saviour,
On whose account the maid Camilla died,
Euryalus, Turnus, Nisus, of their wounds;

Through every city shall he hunt her down,
Until he shall have driven her back to Hell,
There from whence envy first did let her loose.

Therefore I think and judge it for thy best
Thou follow me, and I will be thy guide,
And lead thee hence through the eternal place,

Where thou shalt hear the desperate lamentations,
Shalt see the ancient spirits disconsolate,
Who cry out each one for the second death;

And thou shalt see those who contented are
Within the fire, because they hope to come,
Whene’er it may be, to the blessed people;

To whom, then, if thou wishest to ascend,
A soul shall be for that than I more worthy;
With her at my departure I will leave thee;

Because that Emperor, who reigns above,
In that I was rebellious to his law,
Wills that through me none come into his city.

He governs everywhere, and there he reigns;
There is his city and his lofty throne;
O happy he whom thereto he elects!”

And I to him: “Poet, I thee entreat,
By that same God whom thou didst never know,
So that I may escape this woe and worse,

Thou wouldst conduct me there where thou hast said,
That I may see the portal of Saint Peter,
And those thou makest so disconsolate.”

Then he moved on, and I behind him followed.

Dante Alighieri (translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

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

 

“What light through yonder window breaks?”: Romeo and Juliet arrives soon!

Lovers everywhere pay heed – The Globe on Tour’s production of Romeo and Juliet is around the corner, with just over a month to go until Shakespeare’s most famous and most tragic lovers arrive to take the stage in Liverpool at Calderstones Mansion House.

So far the cast have brought the show far and wide since they opened at Theatre Clywd in Wales, from Austria to Norway to the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. They find themselves back on home soil in Stoke-on-Trent this week, and we’re hoping the sun will keep shining to recreate the beautiful scenes seen from their performances at the Brighton Festival in May.

R&J 2
The cast of Romeo and Juliet take the stage at Brighton Open Air Theatre (credit: Vic Frankowski)
R&J 3
Cassie Layton as Juliet with The Globe on Tour at Brighton Open Air Theatre (credit: Vic Frankowski)

If you’re yearning to know more, The Globe on Tour has lots of goodies on their website, including video trailers and interviews with Sam Valentine (Romeo) and Cassie Layton (Juliet). Sam was also quizzed on Twitter in a special #AskRomeo Q&A recently – no need to fear about missing out, as all of the questions and answers, featuring exclusive pictures of the cast on their travels, have been compiled in this handy Storify:

Romeo and Juliet will be at the Garden Theatre at Calderstones Mansion House on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th July (matinee and evening performances on Saturday 25th). Tickets cost £20 and can be booked from The Globe’s website or by calling The Globe Box Office on 020 7401 9919.

To keep up to date with Romeo and Juliet on their travels, follow @GlobeOnTour

 

Dementia Awareness Week 2015: Joan’s Story

BUPA care home 2 onlineIt’s Dementia Awareness Week (17th-23rd May), and this year’s theme is Do Something New, emphasising the fact that dementia needn’t prevent anyone from trying new things or taking enjoyment from the hobbies they already love.

Shared reading is a wonderful way to connect people living with dementia to the deep pleasure literature can provide, stimulating thoughts, feelings, emotion and memory. In our groups specially for people living with dementia and their carers, poems are read by the leading project worker to the group. Often these poems will be ones recalled from childhood or another significant life period. The rhyme, rhythm and compressed language of poetry helps to stimulate and maintain concentration, sparking off traces of memory. As well as remembering their past, group members are encouraged to enjoy the literature for what it is in the present moment. Effects of shared reading in this way include an increased sense of calm, reduced agitation and increased social interaction with others who are enjoying literature in the same way.

The power of poetry to give voice and a space for expression to people living with dementia comes through in Joan’s Story, recounted by one of our project workers sharing reading in a care home in Merseyside:

We were reading Wordsworth’s classic and much-used poem ‘Daffodils’. ‘Did you like it, Joan?’ asked the activities co-ordinator, to which Joan responded, very audibly – ‘Yeah. ­ There’s something about it, I can’t explain.’ This felt like a moment of progress, even though or especially because it was about not being able to explain and also being able to say that. Poetry of course is good at creating that effect for any of us, whatever our supposed mental ability or disability: poetry is, as it were, content with making something become present though not fully explicable. After the group, the activities co-ordinator told me that she had never heard Joan able to string so many words together, let alone read aloud words from a page, and in the right order. Staff at the care home have since told me that Joan has a framed copy of ‘­The Daffodils’ up on the wall in her room.

During the session Joan also responded well to the poem ‘Your Dresses’ by Carol Ann Duffy: I worked through each stanza, each separate ‘dress’, of the poem and picked out words or phrases with my finger, asking her questions as we went. She seemed to really enjoy looking at the words in this way, and responded either verbally by saying, ‘Yes, very nice’, or by gesturing as if she was trying on a dress in a window. Joan also began to pick parts of the poem to read on her own, and seemed to be trying to say something about it – that she did like it, but seemed frustrated that she couldn’t wear the dresses, or get inside it in some way. At the end of the session we read ‘Everything Touches’ by Roger McGough, to which she listened intently with a big smile on her face. I could tell she liked the poem, but also that some of it made her quite emotional. She said ‘I’m frightened’ at one point, but when I asked her what of, she changed again and seemed to be smiling and happy, reading the last three stanzas of it aloud on her own. On our way out of the room the staff member who had been in the session commented to me, ‘It is amazing – there is definitely something still there, and the poems really seem to bring it out.’

More evidence of how shared reading can improve the quality of life of people living with dementia can be found in Read to Care, an evaluation report of several shared reading groups across Merseyside compiled by the Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society (CRILS) at University of Liverpool, available to download on our website.

We currently run open community groups for people living with dementia and their carers in Devon, Wiltshire, and Barnet, North London.  A new weekly group is starting at Manor Drive Methodist Church Hall, Whetstone on Thursdays, from 21st May,  10-11.30am.

Find out more about Dementia Awareness Week on Alzheimer’s Society website: http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/remembertheperson
Follow the Dementia Awareness Week hashtag on Twitter: #DAW2015

Turning Pages Together: A Celebration of Children’s Literature

worldbookdayTurning Pages Together: A Celebration of Children’s Literature
Thursday 11th June, 4-6pm
Calderstones Mansion House, Liverpool L18 3JB

Join Nicolette Jones, Children’s Books Editor for The Sunday Times, award-winning author Frank Cottrell Boyce and The Reader Organisation as we take a fascinating journey through the world of Children’s Literature at this special event at Calderstones Mansion House.

Nicolette Jones has been the Children’s Books Editor at The Sunday Times for over two decades, and in 2012 was shortlisted for the Eleanor Farjeon Award for distinguished service to the world of children’s books. Last year she created The Sunday Times 100 Modern Children’s Classics, a definitive list of contemporary stories for children of all ages, and she’ll be discussing the choices on the list with Frank, showcasing some of the greatest modern literature you may have heard of – and some that might be new, too.

Author and screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce is known for his children’s books, including Cosmic, the 2004 Carnegie Medal winner Millions and The Unforgotten Coat, winner of the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize 2012 and German Children’s Literature Award 2013, that was also written especially for The Reader Organisation.

With input and insight from two experts in the field, there’s bound to be lots of inspiration in store.

Attendees will also get the chance to hear an exclusive talk from staff at The Reader Organisation on the Storybarn, Liverpool’s first interactive story centre for children and families, which will be opening later this year. This will be followed by drinks, nibbles and time for discussing and sharing thoughts on Children’s Literature with other attendees and speakers from the event.

Places at the event are free but limited, and prior registration is required. Sign up for your place at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/turning-pages-together-a-celebration-of-childrens-literature-tickets-16787884013

Featured Poem: The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll

As it’s a Bank Holiday, we’re taking a trip down the rabbit hole and visiting Wonderland…this week in 1862, while taking a trip out onto the river from Oxford, Lewis Carroll told a fantastical story to three young sisters – Lorina, Edith and Alice. So enthralled was Alice that she asked for it to be written down, and that very story became Alice in Wonderland, named after the young reader who loved the tale.

The text of Alice in Wonderland features a number of parody poems, and this narrative poem is taken from Through The Looking-Glass, recited by Tweedledum and Tweedledee to Alice. A good example of shared reading, even in a world much more unusual than our own…

The Walrus and the Carpenter

The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright–
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done–
“It’s very rude of him,” she said,
“To come and spoil the fun!”

The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead–
There were no birds to fly.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
“If this were only cleared away,”
They said, “it would be grand!”

“If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year.
Do you suppose,” the Walrus said,
“That they could get it clear?”
“I doubt it,” said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.

“O Oysters, come and walk with us!”
The Walrus did beseech.
“A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.”

The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head–
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat–
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn’t any feet.

Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more–
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”

“But wait a bit,” the Oysters cried,
“Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!”
“No hurry!” said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.

“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said,
“Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed–
Now if you’re ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed.”

“But not on us!” the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue.
“After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!”
“The night is fine,” the Walrus said.
“Do you admire the view?

“It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!”
The Carpenter said nothing but
“Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf–
I’ve had to ask you twice!”

“It seems a shame,” the Walrus said,
“To play them such a trick,
After we’ve brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!”
The Carpenter said nothing but
“The butter’s spread too thick!”

“I weep for you,” the Walrus said:
“I deeply sympathize.”
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

“O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,
“You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none–
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.

Lewis Carroll

The Reader 57

Issue 57 of The Reader arrives at The Reader HQ - ready for post out next week!
Issue 57 of The Reader arrives at The Reader HQ – ready for post out next week!

We might still be waiting for the temperatures to rise, but something guaranteed to put some warmth into Spring is the latest issue of The Reader.

Amongst the green leaves are two new short stories by Connie Bensley and Tim Parks, the latter of which is an account of the last days of the mysterious ‘Mrs P’:

“From being someone with time on her hands, happy to get company when she could, Mrs. P has become someone it is rather difficult to get hold of, a person you need to make an appointment with.” – Mrs P, Tim Parks

There’s poetry by the plenty with new work from Greg Moglia, Howard Wright, Chris Allen, Martin Malone and Marjorie Lofti Gill, Imtiaz Dharker writes on ‘Over The Moon’ from her collection Undone in the Poet on Her Work and we go back to the 17th century for Brian Nellist’s latest selection of The Old Poem.

Acclaimed film and television director Ken Loach speaks to Fiona McGee about his long standing relationship with writers and writing, tracing the connection into film and his own work, highlighting the importance of substance over visual style:

“The only thing that I’ve ever looked for is somebody who could write real people. If you read a page and the characters live and the dialogue sounds true then you’re looking at the work of a writer.” – Ken Loach

Two illuminating essays, considerable different in topic, come from author Salley Vickers and pioneering biologist Rupert Sheldrake, who write on instinct and sacrifice and psychic pets respectively.

There’s lots more to look forward to, including Ian McMillan on Ted Hughes and Five Wild Encounters recommended by Sarah Coley.

Issue 57 will be landing on doorsteps throughout the country and on The Reader Organisation’s website very soon, but in the meantime if you haven’t already got your subscription to The Reader now is the perfect time to do so. A year’s subscription gives you four issues worth, costing £24 in the UK and £36 international.

For full details on subscribing, visit the website: http://www.thereader.org.uk/magazine