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November Stories and Poems

Written by Rachael Norris, 10th November 2021

This month saw The Reader's first Gravity festival which took place online and in person 5 - 7 November. Taking its theme from writer Jeanette Winterson, who wrote: ‘Inside books there is perfect space and it is that space which allows the reader to deal with the normal problems of gravity’. 

In the spirit of Gravity, November’s Stories and Poems have been specially selected with the theme of ‘gravity’ in mind – in particular, exploring how we can navigate both the big and small moments that comprise our lives, with the help of friends, family and space for self-reflection.

What is it that keeps our own personal gravity buoyed; our relationships with others? Having our own space and possessions which mean a great deal to us? What happens when those things are damaged? Having the opportunity to walk out and discover the world around us can’t be underestimated in adding value and enrichment to our lives, either.

November’s stories and extracts are:

‘This was like a nowhere’, from The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty

‘Silt’from The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane

‘Friends’ by Lucia Berlin

‘Changing Pictures’, from Fair Play by Tove Jansson

‘Miss Anstruther’s Letters’ by Rose Macaulay

There’s a sense of universal experience in this month’s poetry picks; moments in life we can all identify with, from the difficulties of dealing with grief, to the frustration of feeling stuck in a rut and metaphorically ‘foggy’, and the more uplifting moments of life, the example of musing at nature being just one. These points of recognition are likely to give lots of food for thought, as well as warmth for the soul as we head towards the winter months.

‘Talking to Grief’ by Denise Levertov

‘Aspens’ by Edward Thomas

‘A Little Bit About the Soul’ by Wislawa Szymborska (translated by Joanna Trzeciak)

‘How Surely Gravity’s Law’ by Rainer Maria Rilke (translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)

‘Sonnet 17’, from the Later Life sonnets by Christina Rossetti

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

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