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The Reader 59

November 9, 2015

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.

Penny Readings 2015: How to get your tickets

November 5, 2015

Penny Readings fest 1 onlineLast week we announced the date for this year’s Penny Readings, and now we can reveal more information on how you can get tickets to this year’s festive extravaganza of reading, music and entertainment.

First, a little reminder of the fundamentals:

Where? St George’s Hall (Concert Room), Liverpool
When? Sunday 13th December, 6.30-8.30pm (entrance to the foyer from 5.30pm onwards, with stalls and refreshments)
How much? Tickets are free – just bring your penny on the night!

Shared reading group members and The Reader volunteers will be assigned priority ticket reservation from now until 5pm on Friday 13th November. A maximum of 2 tickets per group member/volunteer can be reserved, although due to possible high demand and a limited number of tickets available there is no guarantee that all requests will be fulfilled.

Group members and volunteers will be able to request tickets from their group leader or volunteer contact and must include the following details: first name and surname, name of group and group leader (applicable to group members) and contact details (telephone number and/or email address).

Ticket allocation for group members and volunteers will be confirmed during the week commencing Monday 23rd November.

Tickets will be available to the general public from 10am on Tuesday 17th November, and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis via the online booking link at and by calling 0151 729 2220. There will be a maximum of 2 tickets per order.

Please be aware, there are no afternoon Ha’penny Readings taking place this year. Children and young people can attend the Penny Readings with an ordered ticket.

We’ll be keeping you updated with more Penny Readings news in the run-up to the big night – in the meantime, follow the #PennyReadings hashtag on Twitter for all the latest…

Featured Poem: The Soldier by Rupert Brooke

November 4, 2015

With Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day coming up, this week’s Featured Poem is a commemorative choice. Though written leading up to the First World War, The Soldier stands to represent all of the fallen soldiers lost of conflicts since, with Rupert Brooke himself viewed as an eternal symbol of the tragic young losses of war.

This poem is featured On Active Service, The Reader’s anthology of poetry from World War I poets, compiled by Brian Nellist.

The Soldier

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by the suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

Rupert Brooke

A Year at Calderstones

October 29, 2015

House-109It’s been over a year since we signed the lease on Calderstones Mansion, making it ours for 125 years, and we were able to celebrate how far we’ve come in the past year at our AGM earlier this month. Throughout the evening, the Mansion fulfilled its purpose of being a home to our group members – some of whom had never visited our home at Calderstones before – who enjoyed good food courtesy of The Reader Cafe and Ice Cream Parlour as well as the atmosphere inside.

At present, nine of our weekly reading groups take place at the Mansion with new groups planned for the future – two of which are starting up in November, giving even more opportunity to visit. It’s not only our regular readers who are finding a home for themselves – our volunteering programme is expanding its reach, taking on a team of volunteers of all ages and walks of life to model how our community at Calderstones will work in future, and special visitors such as young people from the City of Readers summer school have already shown the potential of the Mansion as a place to make magic happen.

ReadingGroup-15And the process has already begun…since the signing of the lease in September 2014, we’ve been able to record some figures on how the Mansion is coming back to life. In just one year, we have:

  • shared reading with 20,553 people – an average of 395 each week
  • welcomed 4,600 people through the doors for a programme of public literary events
  • displayed 44 exhibitions from local artists and organisations at The Reader Gallery
  • employed an additional 35 paid members of staff to our enterprises at Calderstones

For more astounding figures from our base at Calderstones, as well as to get a closer view of what’s happening within the walls of the Mansion, head over to the Calderstones Mansion blog.

Here’s to the future, which we already got a glimpse into by touring the forthcoming Storybarn

Featured Poem: The Morning Glory by Florence Earle Coates

October 28, 2015

This week’s Featured Poem choice is a selection by Florence Earle Coates, an American poet and philanthropist whose work was published in a range of well-established literary publications during the 19th century. She was championed by Matthew Arnold after meeting during his first tour of America in 1883, and her poetry was elsewhere described as drawing “from the Olympian world figures that typify some motive or desire in human conduct, and in the modern world the praise of men and women, heroic in attainment or sacrifice.”

The Morning Glory was read in a shared reading group set within a care home recently, and while it was considered to evoke perhaps painful memories for those who have suffered recent bereavement it also generated much discussion on the nature of loss.

The Morning Glory

Was it worthwhile to paint so fair
The every leaf – to vein with faultless art
Each petal, taking the boon light and air
Of summer so to heart?

To bring thy beauty unto a perfect flower,
Then like a passing fragrance or a smile
Vanish away, beyond recovery’s power –
Was it, frail bloom, worthwhile?

Thy silence answers: “Life was mine!
And I, who pass without regret or grief,
Have cared the more to make my moment fine,
Because it was so brief.

In its first radiance I have seen
The sun! – Why tarry then till comes the night?
I go my way, content that I have been
Part of the morning light!”

Florence Earle Coates

The Penny Readings 2015: Date Announced

October 26, 2015

It’s the biggest event of the year, and we can announce that the Penny Readings is returning to start the Christmas season in true Readerly fashion. The all-important date for your diaries can be found below…

The Concert Room

On Sunday 13th December, we’ll be filling the beautiful Concert Room in St George’s Hall with audience members ready for an evening of festive readings, music and entertainment galore. Now in its twelfth year, we’re looking forward to another seasonal extravaganza harking back to the days of Dickens – all for the price of one penny.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more details on our Penny Readings line-up, and the important information on how you can get your tickets.

“Amazing things happen”: The Reader’s AGM 2015

October 21, 2015

Annual Report frontWhere would you find over 100 guests eating warming bowls of stew followed by scoops of ice cream, taking an exclusive tour of the North West’s forthcoming interactive children’s story centre and sharing poetry, laughs, bursts of emotion and gasps of recognition?

At the beginning of this week, we were delighted to welcome volunteers, commissioners, trustees, staff and many of our shared reading group members from around the country to our base at Calderstones Mansion for our 2015 AGM. Our third AGM to date at Calderstones, we gathered to celebrate a year of many highlights of shared reading activity – the written details of which can be found in our 2014-15 Annual Report. With the appearance of our special guests, we were able to tell some of those wonderful stories aloud.

Acting Chair of The Reader’s Board of Trustees Kathy Doran started proceedings by arranging the board together, before the celebrations of another successful year of shared reading could begin. Once more, the breadth of our activity has grown in the past year but Jane brought us back to the heart of what we do by reading a poem that sums up the fundamentals of what happens in each and every one of our groups. It is our aim, Jane so aptly summarised with help from John Keats, for everyone within a group to find there their own space ‘silent, upon a peak in Darien’.

Keats AGM poem

On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer – Jane’s choice of shared reading at the 2015 AGM

Our volunteers from across the UK shared their own stories about the projects they have been involved in – some for years, others for months, but all with real impacts to the communities they read with. From Liverpool to London, Somerset to North Wales, and reading with a wide range of people, including older people with dementia, library-goers and young people outside of an educational environment in their own homes, all of our volunteer representatives spoke movingly about the difference shared reading is making – in some cases, being nothing short of life-changing. This year’s AGM marks our signing of the 125-year lease at Calderstones Mansion and we celebrated all that has happened at the Mansion so far, including the efforts of our Calderstones volunteers, who still get the chance to read in all of their various roles.

We were also joined by Vicci Tatton of Prinovis, our corporate social responsibility supporter, who told us more about how their staff are getting involved in bringing reading into the workplace, and one of our commissioners Richard Rodgers, Lead for Substance Misuse Services at Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust who explained how shared reading helps to “bring the pace of busy life down” for service users across the trust.

All in all, it was an evening full of inspiration – from the words of classic literature to the numbers of people we’re reaching throughout the country, and most significantly, the stories of our group members. To quote Kathy Doran in her closing speech, “amazing things happen” when people come together to read – and we’re looking forward to even more amazing things in the year ahead.

The Reader’s Annual Report 2014-15 is now available to download from our website – discover more about our work in health, with young people and criminal justice settings, as well as many more highlights from ‘a vintage year’.


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