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May’s Stories and Poems

Written by Francesca Dolan, 10th May 2022

To celebrate the launch of The Reader Bookshelf 2022-23, May’s stories and poems have been chosen with the theme ‘Into the Light’, tying into the wider Bookshelf theme of ‘Light and Darkness’. They include several selections that come directly from the Bookshelf; look out for more in future Monthly Stories and Poems.

We move through different stages of life in this month’s stories and extracts, discovering how people from all backgrounds, including those in positions of high respect and power, can find themselves struggling with emotions that are universal. Ways into the light are found, with isolation and loneliness eased by friendship and sometimes unexpected connection, questions around identity sought answers through family love and support, and uncertainty and lack of confidence overcome by determination and the prospect of personal challenge.

May’s stories and extracts are:

‘Marriage Trouble’ (extract from Wide Sargasso Sea) by Jean Rhys

Julius Caesar, from Act 3 Scene 2 by William Shakespeare

‘Two Gentle People’ by Graham Greene

‘Christchurch to Glasgow’ (extract from Red Dust Road) by Jackie Kay

‘Through the Tunnel’ by Doris Lessing

This month’s poems show us how we might encounter light in ways we might not expect, and how these ways might feel initially unsettling and challenging but can lead to important revelations. We often seem to be conditioned to seek out the light in life, but what happens when our search takes longer than we would like it to? The importance of slowing down, finding quiet and taking a deeper look into the world around us can also help bring new discoveries into the light.

‘Hurricane Hits England’ by Grace Nichols

XXVII, from Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore

‘Deep in the Quiet Wood’ by James Weldon Johnson

‘I Would Like to be a Dot in a Painting by Miro’ by Moniza Alvi

‘Magna Est Veritas’ by Coventry Patmore 

Julius Caesar is one of the texts from The Reader Bookshelf 2022-23, and ahead of Shakespeare’s Globe bringing their production of the play to Calderstones this June, there are several chances to explore it this month. If you’re not quite sure where to begin, take a guided tour with our Don’t Fear Shakespeare workshops, both at Calderstones (Sunday 15 May) and online (Wednesday 25 May).

You can also spend a whole day in the company of Shakespeare and his Roman political actors at the next Sunday School at the Mansion House at Calderstones on Sunday 22 May. Join The Reader’s Founder Jane Davis and Ben Davis, her son, to read and think about Light and Darkness in Julius Caesar, with the presence of great African American thinker, James Baldwin, alongside as a guiding light.

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