Fourth Meeting: Monday, 28 Nov. 2016: Selected Poems by W.H. Auden

Next Meeting

Date and time: Monday, 28 Nov. 2016, 7 pm
Venue: Paradise Palms, 41 Lothian Street.
Reading: Selected poems by W.H. Auden (‘Surgical Ward’, ‘Miss Gee’, ‘Letter to a Wound’, ‘The Art of Healing’ and ‘Lines to Dr Walter Birk on His Retiring from General Practice’)
Also, this article in The Guardian.
Thank you to everybody who came to our last meeting for such a riveting discussion. It is really exciting to see such a broad range of different backgrounds and interests in the group converge on such interesting points of discussion. And it was also especially fortuitous that Teviot was busy, as we now have a nice regular venue for the reading group.

Two very brief housekeeping notes this time: the first is that our new regular venue is now Paradise Palms on 41 Lothian Street. The consensus at the last meeting was that their back room was an excellent space for our meeting, and the food and atmosphere were both lovely. I have contacted them to ask whether we can use the pub as our regular meeting place from the new year.

Secondly, starting with the new year, I will migrate the Reading Group to a mailing list. This is because the Facebook group is not being used by our regular members and it is not contributing to an increase in attendance or activity in the Reading Group. All the regular members prefer email as a mode of communicating notices and material for meetings. Over the Christmas break, I will transfer our mailing list from MailChimp to the University’s mailing list system. The university’s system should be superior as it would allow each of the individual members to access the mailing list and share links, readings and set up future meetings without my intervention. Furthermore, many email providers seem to be blocking email from MailChimp as spam, which is why many of our subscribers are not receiving our emails.

As of the forthcoming meeting, I would have proposed readings for four consecutive meetings now, which is really getting to be too much. So I would like to invite more suggestions from members and subscribers for texts or themes they would like to discuss. We had a brief discussion at the end of the last session, and we had a number of ideas come up (ranging from ‘trauma’ and ‘violence’ as themes, but also texts like Doris Lessing’s The Fifth Child, Clare Morrall’s Astonishing Splashes of Colour. These are great suggestions, and we might discuss these in forthcoming meetings in the new year. If any of our members have any further suggestions, feel free to get in touch.

Next, the forthcoming session (on Monday, 28 November) will be the last session of 2016. Following this meeting, we will adjourn until January in the new year. For the readings for the forthcoming session, this will be another light meeting for which I would like to suggest five poems by W.H. Auden, a poet of whom I am a rather big fan. The poems I would like us to consider are ‘Surgical Ward’, ‘Miss Gee’, ‘Letter to a Wound’, ‘The Art of Healing’ and ‘Lines to Dr Walter Birk on His Retiring from General Practice’.

(If you need help finding the readings, please contact me via email using the contact form.)

In addition, here is an interesting article in The Guardian for us to consider about the idea of poetry as a method of ‘listening to pain’:

I think the discussion about pain and how it changes us as well as an exploration of how poetry can allow us to voice and listen to pain should be quite a fascinating way to round off our discussions for the semester. Also, the two doctor elegies in particular should bring together many of the strands about narrative medicine that we have been discussing over what would be two months by the next session.

Finally, if you have any questions about the Reading Group, any suggestions for things to read or would like to know more, feel free to get in touch via email. You can also find us on Facebook (


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