Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I should say I had such fun chosing a poem from the book of Rosemary Dobson's collected work. On a brief riffle-through of the pages, with the only criterion for me stopping and reading being the shortness of the verse, I stuck seven markers in different pages, all of which would have given us inspiration material.

I've got very lazy about reading. When I lived in Bristol I followed the herd and joined a book club at the university where I worked and it was, sadly, a bit too focused on long and erudite analysis and I gave a small sigh of relief when that job ended and I had a graceful excuse for leaving. Then I found a literary home among a group of friends who all lived nearby. We met once a month at a wine bar once we'd exhausted each other's hospitality; our partners all laughed about "the girls" going off for a boozy evening, but over a bottle of wine and several coffees we had great discussions and a lot of fun. I was teased for months about my book choices, when we took it in turns to offer up titles for the coming meetings. The first book we read was Orhan Pamuk's My Name is Red, the title of which is enough to set the others off in giggles because they all hated it whereas I loved it then and love it still! That book club was - is, although not for me now I live half a world away - an invitation into other worlds. I went outside my comfort zone many times, into the dark world of Lionel Shriver's We need to talk about Kevin or the lighter comedy of Alexander McCall-Smith's African stories, or John Banville's The Sea, The Sea. I miss that: I miss my friends, I miss the anticipation of a good night out with the girls within staggering distance of my garden gate (no car required), and I miss the challenge of reading something new and stimulating and not having permission to give in and give up.

To make up for it (at least a little bit) I make books, and I read books to my daughter*. Together we've finished reading SEVEN of Joan Aiken's children's books, from The Wolves of Willoughby Chase through to the last story in the series, Is (* Michael listens in, too, although he likes to pretend that he's busy doing something else...). Rumour has it that Joan Aiken added a few more volumes late in her life but we haven't seen them yet. We don't have an excuse to buy them because I found a bumper edition of Mary Norton's The Borrowers stories. Six stories in one volume! How exciting. We've only just finished Chapter Three and are entering the tiny world of Pod, Homily and Arriety in their home under the kitchen floorboards of a big, old house.

Anyway, reading Rosemary Dobson's poems - although I confess I've only read the ones against which I stuck a marker - has made a refreshing change, and I'm enjoying the opportunity to concentrate really hard on one short poem, in the way I used to do when studying English Literature set texts at secondary school. I'll find all the nuances, the rhythms, the stop and start of the punctuation and the set of the lines, and while I'm thinking about it I'll be thinking about making it into a book...

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