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November’s Monthly Stories and Poems

Written by Lily Kehoe, 15th November 2023

This month marks the halfway point in this year’s Reader Bookshelf, with the theme of ‘Weathering the Storm’. It gives us a moment to reflect but also to refresh our thinking, and for November’s Stories and Poems we are taking inspiration from the Bookshelf by looking at its theme from a slightly different angle: in particular, the ways in which we might find shelter from the storm.

Several of the selections have been taken from the 2023-24 Bookshelf. This month, we feature extracts from the novel Potiki by Patricia Grace, and the play King Lear by William Shakespeare, as well as poems from the anthology Stressed, Unstressed, edited by Jonathan Bate and Paula Byrne.

Storms can happen at many points in our lives, related to the personal situations and relationships we find ourselves involved with, or linked to our professions, lifestyles and the wider world we are part of. The characters in this month’s stories and extracts find themselves navigating their own storms, and searching for shelter through connections with other people, discovering new pathways and perspectives to try out, and also by giving voice to their feelings.

November’s stories and extracts are:

‘Given stories’ (extract from Potiki) by Patricia Grace

‘The lake house at Verimovo’ (extract from The Tiger’s Wife) by Téa Obreht

‘Come, bring us to this hovel’ (extract from King Lear) by William Shakespeare

‘Strike!’ (extract from North and South) by Elizabeth Gaskell

‘The Listener’ by John Berry

This month’s poetry choices provide moments of pause and, hopefully, relief during stormy times. As well as exploring places that are familiar and others that are a little more mysterious through the beauty, space, serenity and sense of belonging they can offer, we can also think about the moments that, in spite of difficulty, make life worthwhile, and the promises of hope which give us ‘a way to hang on in there’.

‘Emerging’ by Pablo Neruda, translated by Alastair Reid

‘Arrival’ by R.S. Thomas – from Stressed, Unstressed

‘The Precision of Pain and the Blurriness of Joy’ by Yehuda Amichai, translated by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfield

‘When I am Among the Trees’ by Mary Oliver

‘Sonnet 30’ by William Shakespeare – from Stressed, Unstressed

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

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