Poetry Reading Group
We all have a favourite poem, or are familiar with at least one poem we learnt at school. I read that in 1995 The Bookworm asked the BBC viewers and listeners to vote for their favourite poems. The result was a clear win for ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling (an apt one at this time of year with Wimbledon about to start). The favourite modern poem was Jenny Joseph’s hymn to growing old gracefully, ‘Warning’:
When I am an old woman I shall where purple
With a red hat that doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me
In our U3A Poetry Reading Group there are around a dozen enthusiastic poetry readers, many being original members of the group. Although having been a member of the group since its inception Ann Pennington-Legh has led it for the last eleven years. It is a social group meeting in members’ homes with refreshments that include ever popular, homemade cakes. Seated comfortably Ann brings the group to order, the chatter stops and in turn each member reads the poem(s) they have chosen. This is not a random choice as the previous month a theme has been set and the poems are to follow that theme. For instance in May it was farms, farming and agriculture. Ann says that when she started to investigate such poems it was quite difficult to find any, so some group members extended their choice to gardens etc. However one member found some Australian poems about sheep shearing and cattle droving that contained some colourful Aussie language, which amused them greatly. The majority of poems are discussed after their reading and opinions are given.
For the month of June, as they meet near to the longest day of the year, they have to choose poems referring to high summer. Other themes have included, 18th &19th century poems, modern poems, a particular poet or obscure and new poets. I heard from one group member that she was struggling with this last task and her young grandson who was staying at the time asked what she was doing. She told him and he said, ‘I’m a poet, I’ve written a poem’, so his moment of fame arrived and his poem was read out. Another idea was to write on a folded piece of paper a poet’s name, Marvell, Betjeman, Keats, etc. and each member picked a name from ‘the hat’ and researched and read poems by that poet.
Not surprisingly this group is full, but each month Ann sends a poem to the News Magazine and Website so that we too can enjoy a poem that we may not know.