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August’s Stories and Poems

Written by Lily Kehoe, 10th August 2023

We’re going back into the past for our selections this month, with memories of childhood, places and people remembered, and a certain sense of nostalgia which seems fitting for this time of year as many of us take summer breaks.

Included in both August’s extracts and poem choices are texts which have been read as part of the Making Meaning at Calderstones project, funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. As part of the project we’ve been seeking out literature that helps us to think about and imagine what life have been like for those who lived and worked in the Mansion House, uncovering stories and marking Calderstones as a significant place of meaning-making. We’ll be sharing more of these literary finds over the coming months.

We also continue to delve into The Reader Bookshelf. This month’s Bookshelf picks come from A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett and Poems to Live Your Life By, edited by Chris Riddell, both from the Children’s Bookshelf, and This Same Sky, edited by Naomi Shihab Nye, which is included on the Adult’s Bookshelf.

This month’s extracts might help us to imagine places in the past we’re not familiar with, as well as help us to consider our own individual pasts, whether recent or more distant. Memories or ‘reconstructions’ can be tied to all sorts of things, including the people we form significant relationships with, and perhaps we find that the memories we have can differ from those belonging to others. There is also the chance in one of the pieces to occupy the present – perhaps more fully than we would usually consider…

August’s stories and extracts are:

‘The Dairymaid’ (extract from Adam Bede) by George Eliot

‘Monday or Tuesday’ by Virginia Woolf

‘In the Attic’ (extract from A Little Princess) by Frances Hodgson Burnett

‘Reconstructing the past’ (extract from The House of Mirth) by Edith Wharton

‘Home Visit’ (extract from Top Girls) by Caryl Churchill 

We find ourselves going on several different journeys with August’s selection of poems, which can accompany you if you’re off on your travels or will maybe make you feel like you’re taking a holiday if you’re staying at home. In some cases, these journeys are physical but in others it’s more about reimagining, or revisiting places from history while bearing a new perspective in mind.

‘The Pit Ponies’ by Leslie Norris – from This Same Sky

‘When we were Children’ by Louis MacNeice

‘Bone China’ by Esther Morgan

‘The Simorgh’s palace’ (extract from The Conference of the Birds) by Farid ud-Din Attar (translated by Afkham Darbandi & Dick Davis)

‘There is a pleasure in the pathless woods’ (from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage) by George Gordon, Lord Byron – from Poems to Live Your Life By

If you're a Reader Leader head to the Online Community Hub to download this month's selection.

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