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The Kindness of The Poem
Thursday, April 03, 2014
I've just been to an introductory session with The Reader Organisation and was struck by something one of the rather inspirational presenters said, when describing the ways in which it's possible to help non typical readers to engage with texts. She was describing how a poem (it was Invictus) helped a woman whose life had been more or less disastrous - how the poem was "kind" to her, kinder than anything or anyone else. I thought this was a great way to describe the way we rest on literature and texts, use it as a solace, a protection, a friend. I guess this is where those saying a day feeds try to be, but just don't work in the same way for me. I need an embodied text - happy to write something down, extract from a longer piece of poetry or prose - but a free floating, "this is how it is" saw doesn't hit the spot. It's the old nothing should come easy thing maybe - the need I have to earn my redemption.
The Reader believes in reading aloud. This reminded me of my first teaching job (English and General Studies, Newcastle College 1980) when I decided I was going to read Ian McEwan's First Love, Last Rites to Gas Engineer Apprentices. I really can't remember why I did it, and I was probably very nervous, as I found teaching frightening at first (why would anybody want to listen to me?). But they were attentive, listened, talked about the story we read. And afterwards, one of the lads (they were all boys) lingered and asked if he could borrow the book. Ah, I thought, and never saw either the book or the boy again. Hope it was life-changing in a good way, Darren.

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