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Featured Poem: Moving Forward by Rainer Maria Rilke

March 30, 2015

If you haven’t been paying attention to the march of time, then this Monday morning may prove more muddled than usual…here in the UK the clocks went forward by one hour early on Sunday meaning, that it is now officially British Summer Time. Unfortunately an elusive hour was stolen from us all collectively (not good for us busy Readers), but on the up side it also means that there’s an extra hour of daylight for us to enjoy from now on (no more poring over books by candlelight, unless of course you prefer to read that way).

The notion of going forward is one that, barring losing precious time sleeping, is largely positive. If you’re feeling in a hesitant mood about whether you should have made that certain decision lately, are in need of a push along the way towards the Easter weekend ahead or just fancy seeing the world in a new light, then this poem by Rainer Maria Rilke (translated into English by Robert Bly) will go down a treat. We especially like the line ‘It seems that things are more like me now,’ – a sentiment to make us all feel settled when the world appears to be an uncertain place. We’re not so sure about ‘my feeling sinks, as if standing on fishes’ (here at The Reader, we wouldn’t advocate standing on fishes or any other form of marine life)…one to ponder this Monday morning.

Moving Forward

The deep parts of my life pour onward,
as if the river shores were opening out.
It seems that things are more like me now,
that I can see farther into paintings.
I feel closer to what language can’t reach.
With my sense, as with birds, I climb
into the windy heaven, out of the oak,
and in the ponds broken off from the sky
my feeling sinks, as if standing on fishes.

Rainer Maria Rilke


Featured Poem: There was a Child went Forth by Walt Whitman

March 23, 2015

The weekend just gone saw two phenomenons of nature, the most talked-about being that of the solar eclipse. Though we experienced 85% partial eclipse here in the UK, the clouds made it seem rather less spectacular than it really was – a shame, as now we have to wait until September 2090 until the next one. By coincidence, the Vernal Equinox took place on the same day. The arrival of Spring is something we can all take part in whatever the skies overhead look like, though we hope those clouds clear up soon to leave us with more suitable sunshine.

As the seasons change and we get a spring in our step, this poem by Walt Whitman has left us pondering. One of our shared reading groups in Cornwall recently enjoyed it alongside their reading of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. The Reader Organisation’s Reader-in-Residence for Cornwall Sally Sweeney tells us more:

The poem takes you on a journey through nature and through human life. On the page, the constant repetition, at the start of each line, of the words;  ‘and’, ‘the’ and ‘they’ can seem a bit clunky at first glance. However,  the almost hypnotic rhythm created by those repeated words, and the vast array of images described, make it wonderful to read aloud.

We could have talked about it all afternoon – definitely needs a good 45 minutes to do it justice!

Why not take some time out of your Monday to have a read and relax into what we hope will be a far sunnier week from here.

There was a Child went Forth

There was a child went forth every day;
And the first object he look’d upon, that object he became;
And that object became part of him for the day, or a certain part of the day, or for many years, or stretching cycles of years.

The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass, and white and red morning-glories, and white and red clover, and the song of the phoebe-bird,
And the Third-month lambs, and the sow’s pink-faint litter, and the mare’s foal, and the cow’s calf,
And the noisy brood of the barn-yard, or by the mire of the pond-side,
And the fish suspending themselves so curiously below there—and the beautiful curious liquid,
And the water-plants with their graceful flat heads—all became part of him.

The field-sprouts of Fourth-month and Fifth-month became part of him;
Winter-grain sprouts, and those of the light-yellow corn, and the esculent roots of the garden,
And the apple-trees cover’d with blossoms, and the fruit afterward, and wood-berries, and the commonest weeds by the road;
And the old drunkard staggering home from the out-house of the tavern, whence he had lately risen,
And the school-mistress that pass’d on her way to the school,
And the friendly boys that pass’d—and the quarrelsome boys,
And the tidy and fresh-cheek’d girls—and the barefoot negro boy and girl,
And all the changes of city and country, wherever he went.

His own parents,
He that had father’d him, and she that had conceiv’d him in her womb, and birth’d him,
They gave this child more of themselves than that;
They gave him afterward every day—they became part of him.

The mother at home, quietly placing the dishes on the supper-table;
The mother with mild words—clean her cap and gown, a wholesome odor falling off her person and clothes as she walks by;
The father, strong, self-sufficient, manly, mean, anger’d, unjust;
The blow, the quick loud word, the tight bargain, the crafty lure,
The family usages, the language, the company, the furniture—the yearning and swelling heart,
Affection that will not be gainsay’d—the sense of what is real—the thought if, after all, it should prove unreal,
The doubts of day-time and the doubts of night-time—the curious whether and how,
Whether that which appears so is so, or is it all flashes and specks?
Men and women crowding fast in the streets—if they are not flashes and specks, what are they?
The streets themselves, and the façades of houses, and goods in the windows,
Vehicles, teams, the heavy-plank’d wharves—the huge crossing at the ferries,
The village on the highland, seen from afar at sunset—the river between,
Shadows, aureola and mist, the light falling on roofs and gables of white or brown, three miles off,
The schooner near by, sleepily dropping down the tide—the little boat slack-tow’d astern,
The hurrying tumbling waves, quick-broken crests, slapping,
The strata of color’d clouds, the long bar of maroon-tint, away solitary by itself—the spread of purity it lies motionless in,
The horizon’s edge, the flying sea-crow, the fragrance of salt marsh and shore mud;
These became part of that child who went forth every day, and who now goes, and will always go forth every day.

Walt Whitman

The Reader South West wins at Wiltshire Public Health Awards

March 19, 2015

A huge congratulations go to The Reader Organisation in the South West, who were winners at the Wiltshire Public Health Awards last night.

Jennifer McDerra, The Reader Organisation's Development Manager for Public Health and Dementia, accepts the Wiltshire Public Health award for improving mental health and wellbeing, awarded to the Wiltshire shared reading project (Photo credit: Wiltshire Council)

Jennifer McDerra, The Reader Organisation’s Development Manager for Public Health and Dementia, accepts the Wiltshire Public Health award for improving mental health and wellbeing, awarded to the Wiltshire shared reading project (Photo credit: Wiltshire Council)

Our Wiltshire shared reading project, running in partnership with Wiltshire Libraries, picked up the prize for improved mental health and wellbeing across the area. Running since January 2014, Library Memory Groups bring the shared reading experience to people living with dementia and memory loss on a weekly basis. With poems and short stories that are read aloud, group members are immersed in a calm and relaxed atmosphere, with the texts being read and digested allowing people to piece together collective personal memories related to the stories and poems, which in turn encourages feelings of wellbeing.

Group members and their family members and carers have reported that the weekly sessions have a positive impact on their mood, allowing them to rediscover and enjoy literature with others and giving the opportunity to make new friends and connections within their community.

The project has also involved volunteers to assist in running the groups, allowing it to extend further across the region.

The Wiltshire Public Health Awards, run by Wiltshire Council, recognise individuals, projects and organisations for their contributions to improving the health and wellbeing of people who live and work in Wiltshire in nine different categories, including the mental health award. This year’s awards saw a staggering 120 nominees enter, so the achievement is something we’re especially proud of.

Jennifer McDerra, The Reader Organisation’s Development Manager for Public Health and Dementia, was at the ceremony in Trowbridge to pick up the award on behalf of the team. A special congratulations goes to Wiltshire Project Worker Josephine Corcoran who has done so much to get the project off the ground and maintained its success onto to award-winning status!

You can read more about the Wiltshire project, and the remarkable effects it has had on group members on Josephine’s blog:

A new Library Memory Group will be starting at Salisbury Library in Wiltshire on Thursdays, 11am-12pm, weekly from 23rd April. Other Library Memory Groups in the area currently run in Trowbridge, Warminster and Mere (Wednesdays) and Royal Wootton Bassett and Pewsey (Thursdays). For full details on the groups, visit our website or follow @TheReaderSW on Twitter:

CEO Sleepout Liverpool

March 18, 2015

CEO Sleepout LiverpoolOn Thursday 26th March Everton in the Community – the official charity of Everton Football Club – will be giving business executives from across Liverpool the opportunity to do their part to tackle poverty deprivation and disadvantage across Merseyside as it hosts the North West’s CEO Sleepout event at Goodison Park.

In partnership with Church Urban Fund and Together Liverpool, the event will see over 40 of the city’s leading business figures joining forces to spend one night sleeping outdoors all to raise awareness and vital funds to improve the lives of some of Merseyside’s poorest and most marginalised people, giving up their beds to help those who don’t have one whatever the weather may be.

With Liverpool being rated as the most deprived local authority in England, poverty is an issue that affects thousands of lives. Working with Together Liverpool and the Diocese of Liverpool, Church Urban Fund have already supported nearly 400 projects in Liverpool to a value of £4.2 million, going some way towards changing lives for the better.

To date, CEO Sleepout events have raised over £300,000 around the UK, with an average of £1,000 per participant being raised at each event.

One of the executives taking part in CEO Sleepout Liverpool is Steve Hawkins, Chief Executive of Local Solutions and former trustee of The Reader Organisation. Being aware of the impact deprivation has on people’s lives having started his career working in a night shelter at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral’s crypt, the work Steve does at Local Solutions has seen thousands of homeless people being provided with accommodation and initiatives to prevent poverty. Taking part in this special event will help to do even more for the city’s poorest – and as a diehard Liverpool fan, spending a night at Goodison is no easy task!

Steve is currently on CEO Sleepout Liverpool’s ‘Hall of Fame’, but with a week to go until the event there’s plenty of time left to raise even more money. You can donate to Steve’s CEO Sleepout through his JustGiving page:

See a full list of the participants and find out more about CEO Sleepout Liverpool on the website:

Catch up on the latest details about the event on Twitter @CEOSleepOutUK and @churchurbanfund

Featured Poem: Sonnet 43 by William Shakespeare

March 16, 2015

It’s Shakespeare Week this week, encouraging younger generations to be inspired through encountering Shakespeare’s stories, language and heritage. Therefore, there could be no other choice than to feature the bard himself as our Monday offering for the week ahead.

Most of us are likely to start off our experiences of Shakespeare by reading the plays while in school or university, but to know the true scope of his work it’s well worth looking at his sonnets too – of which there are a staggering 154. Perhaps if you’re feeling particularly adventurous you could dedicate this week to reading them all?

We’ll give you just one in the meantime, which shows how Shakespeare was the master of inventiveness in his writing. Consider all of the oppositions within…

Sonnet 44

When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see,
For all the day they view things unrespected;
But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
And darkly bright, are bright in dark directed.
Then thou, whose shadow shadows doth make bright,
How would thy shadow’s form form happy show
To the clear day with thy much clearer light,
When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so!
How would, I say, mine eyes be blessed made
By looking on thee in the living day,
When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade
Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay!
All days are nights to see till I see thee,
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.

William Shakespeare


You can experience the wonder of one of the Bard’s most classic tales as Romeo and Juliet comes to Calderstones Mansion House this July with Shakespeare’s Globe. See this post for all the details on how you can book your tickets for what promises to be a spectacular version of the enduring love story.

Lent Lecture: Salley Vickers

March 12, 2015

salley_vickersLiverpool Parish Church Lent Talks: Salley Vickers (sponsored by The Reader Organisation)
Thursday 19th March, 6pm
Our Lady and Saint Nicholas Church, Chapel Street, Liverpool L2 8TZ


As part of this year’s Lent Talks at Liverpool Parish Church, author Salley Vickers will be appearing at this special event on Thursday 19th March.

Described as “a novelist in the great English tradition of moral seriousness” by the Washington Post, Salley has been one of the biggest names in modern English Literature since the publication of her first novel Miss Garnet’s Angel in 2000, which was described as a ‘word-of-mouth bestseller’. Her novels show an acute awareness of human nature and invite us to side with the onlooker who becomes involved in the story. Her latest collection of short stories, The Boy Who Could See Death, will be published in April.

Salley has also been a regular contributor to The Reader magazine, in Issue 39 with Epiphany, her short story on the topic of mortality, Issue 54 with an essay on ‘Why Poetry Matters’ and Issue 55.

Now residing in London, Salley returns to her birth city of Liverpool for what promises to be an insightful and inspiring talk in a historic series, sponsored by The Reader Organisation.

This year’s Lent Talks take on a new format: speakers talk for 45 minutes (most will also look for questions and contributions from the audience), with audience members invited to stay for refreshments for 45 minutes afterwards to meet the speaker and each other.

Because the talks are a gift to the City, there is no charge and no need to book. You may have to come early to guarantee a good seat but everyone is welcome.

Back issues of The Reader 39, 54 and 55, in which Salley is featured, will also be available for free on the night.

For further information, see the Diocese of Liverpool website.

Celebrating World Read Aloud Day and World Book Day

March 10, 2015

Last week was a particularly Readerly one as two back-to-back dates in the calendar gave us lots to celebrate.

Wednesday saw the annual global celebration of reading aloud, World Read Aloud Day. The Reader Organisation was proud to be a WRADvocate of World Read Aloud Day for the fourth year and marked the day by reading aloud with hundreds of people across the country in our shared reading groups. Reading aloud is a wonderful way of bringing communities together to share in emotional, deeply human and connecting experiences and nowhere are we better encapsulating that ethos than at Calderstones Mansion House, where we are creating an International Centre for Reading.

Elsewhere in Merseyside, our volunteers from the Merseyside Volunteer Reader Scheme, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, shared what reading aloud means to them, in words that made us feel truly inspired. Some of the wonderful comments can be found below:

WRAD responses 1


“Reading aloud is…: pleasurable…a good way to gain confidence…people sharing their own experience…so enjoyable with a participating audience…a caress.”

“Reading aloud makes me feel…: involved…so much more aware of the power of a poem…alive…better.”

Our Readers on Twitter also shared in the World Read Aloud Day excitement:

I didn’t know such a day existed! So much poetry is only truly appreciated when you taste it on your tongue. I’m in! #WRAD15

‘The Listeners’ by Walter de la Mare is my favourite poem to read aloud! Reminds me of primary school- lovely memories #WRAD15

“Reading aloud makes me…want to be the voice of an audio book.” #WRAD15

The fun didn’t stop as we went straight into World Book Day on Thursday. We celebrated in style with City of Readers in a bookish extravaganza for younger bookworms at Calderstones Mansion, full of reading and crafty fun with create-your-own-book-covers. Our top three reads were also featured as part of Liverpool’s favourite books as compiled by the Liverpool Echo, sitting alongside such names as Ricky Tomlinson, Kevin Sampson, Peter Hooton and Kim Cattrall. Can you guess which trio we might have chosen? Take a look at Liverpool’s literature picks here.



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