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May’s Stories and Poems

Written by Lily Kehoe, 11th May 2023

To celebrate the launch of The Reader Bookshelf for 2023-24, May’s Monthly Stories and Poems have been chosen with the theme ‘Weathering the Storm’.

Our world is facing tough times. The cost of living crisis, conflicts around the globe, concerns over climate change and our environment are all things that feel big, frightening and beyond our control. For this year’s Bookshelf, we’re turning to the books, poems and stories which explore how humans endure stormy times, offering understanding, refuge and space to think through the changeable weather of our lives.

Several of the selections in May’s pack come directly from the 24 titles on the Bookshelf. We’ll be featuring Bookshelf texts throughout the year; to begin with, we’re showcasing extracts and poems from Waiting for the Evening News by Tim Gautreaux, Stressed, Unstressed edited by Jonathan Bate and Paula Byrne, King Lear by William Shakespeare and This Same Sky: A Collection of Poetry from around the World
edited by Naomi Shihab Nye.

Storms take both physical and emotional forms in this month’s selection of stories and extracts. For some, the effects brought on by a change in conditions is a welcome thing, awakening the senses and providing exhilaration. For others, the weathering is more of a difficult process, with positives feeling a long way off in the distance. The phrase ‘the calm before the storm’ comes to mind, too, although how calm situations may be could be called into question…

May’s stories and extracts are:

‘Transported to a new land’ (extract from Silas Marner) by George Eliot

‘The Piano Tuner’ by Tim Gautreaux – from Waiting for the Evening News

‘The sea swells’ (extract from Memoirs) by Pablo Neruda 

Sophia’s Storm’ by Tove Jansson

‘Where nature doth with merit challenge’ (extract from King Lear) by William Shakespeare

This month’s poems bring relief in ways which are not always easy. There is comfort to be found in feelings of commonality and togetherness, despite distance, but also in acknowledging times of struggle and despair – by giving a voice and language to the tougher things we feel, often we can begin to take steps forward through our various storms.

‘One Another’s Light’ by Brian Patten

‘No worst, there is none’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins

‘Five Senses’ by Judith Wright – from Stressed, Unstressed

A Song of Ascents, from The Psalms of Ascent

‘Under This Sky’ by Zia Hyder (translated by Bhabani Sengupta with Naomi Shihab Nye) – from This Same Sky: A Collection of Poetry from around the World 

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

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