Literature

u3a Movement Connects Through Poetry

7 October is National Poetry Day. We are hosting two poetry events with u3a members speaking about poetry, which you can book onto on the u3a online events page. Here, the speakers of those events share what it is about poetry that they find so compelling. We would love to hear from you too – what it is you love about poetry?

Hilda, South Bucks u3a

In our session for National Poetry Day we will be considering poems composed by poets from across the four nations of United Kingdom from Shakespeare to Armitage.

I was u3a Convenor of the Poetry Group of South Bucks u3a for 10 years and have been a regular u3a Summer School Tutor. During those sessions, I certainly learned more from the participants than they ever learned from me! Like most of us, I first discovered poetry at school, and it was an English teacher who inspired me to my lifelong enthusiasm for the wonders of English poetry. My passion now is for the poetry of the 19th century to the present day.

My fascination with those two centuries of poetry is probably shared by many poetry-lovers. Not only have the subject matter and forms of poetry gradually broadened over that time, but we can plainly trace how poets of all backgrounds have gradually felt themselves liberated in their endeavours to express issues of class, gender and race and to appeal to an ever-widening readership for poetry. I hope that we will all get a taste of that variety in our session on National Poetry Day.

Jane, Guildford u3a

At my event on National Poetry Day, we will be exploring the very earliest English poetry, which emerged from oral, pagan beginnings before the sixth century, and developed through conversion to Christianity and literacy.

I was first captured by poetry as a child when my mother read A. A. Milne’s verses to me, before I could read myself. I then lost interest at school, as the English teacher and I shared a mutual antipathy. I rediscovered poetry when I went to university as a seriously mature student. It was Old and Middle English poetry which aroused my enthusiasm particularly, perhaps partly because they involved the extra ingredient of a ‘foreign’ language. The mysteries of Old English (Anglo-Saxon) language and culture enthralled me, as did the changes wrought after the Norman Invasion. To sum up: poetry, language, history, are three of my favourite subjects and my study of Old and Middle English combined the three.

Besides leading a group on ‘Anglo-Saxon Attitudes’ for Guildford u3a, I belong to the more straight-forward Poetry Group. We have been looking at 19th and 20th century poetry written in English. Each member of the Group takes a turn in researching a poet and his/her work, and presenting their findings at one of the monthly meetings. Members know who the poet is going to be beforehand so that they can do some research and reading of their own before the meeting. These are always very lively sessions.

I would like to expand my knowledge of Classical Poetry (Greek and Latin), though this would have to be in translation. I have managed to get through Dante’s Divine Comedy in Italian, but with an English translation alongside, and I’ve dabbled in some modern Russian poetry, again mostly with translations, but I hope to live long enough to learn enough Russian to be able to appreciate the poetry in the original language.

Find out more about our events for National Poetry Day on our online events page.

Let us know what you love about poetry and how you celebrate that within u3a.