Record of meeting, 14 January 2009

We met on 14 January at David Lambourn’s house. Present were David Belcher, John Challenor, Sara Clethero, John Howard, David Lambourn, Simon Mapp and Stephen Williams, with an apology from Paul Graham. David Belcher reported back briefly on the London SoF Conference where he had been especially impressed with the contribution of Mohammed Aziz.

As planned, we went on to share our choices of poetry and prose, covering a range of material although as someone suggested at the end we could probably have done a bit less and allowed time for some things to be repeated. However, we can always look them up! This is what was read:

John Brackenbury
: “And on Clear Days, France”, with the challenging first line “Where we are is the only vantage point”

Alan Bennett
: the discussion between Hector and Timms on the value of poetry from The History Boys

Thomas Hardy
: "The Impercipient”

Dylan Thomas
: extract from Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog

David Hart: “Naming, my friends”

T S Eliot
: extract from “The Dry Salvages” (...we have to think of them as forever bailing, setting and hauling...not as making a trip that will be unpayable for a haul that will not bear examination)

Robert Graves
: “Broken Images”

Stevie Smith: “Why are the Clergy...?”

Günter Eich
: “Messages of the Rain”

Brian Patten
: “So Many Different Lengths of Time” and also “Devilment”

Dylan Thomas
: extract from “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” (read with an impressive accent)

W H Auden: “In Memory of W B Yeats”

Dylan Thomas: “The Force that through the Green Fuse drives the Flower”

David Hart
: “Holding the Moment Steady”

A lot of SoF discussion reflects the importance of language as marking the limit of our capacity to think and communicate, but an evening spent sharing such a range of creative writing brings home just how complex and subtle the idea of language can be. David Hart’s tentative exploration of words, and Dylan Thomas’s exuberant syntax are just the most obvious examples.

For our next meeting we will return to more customary fare, and as provisionally agreed we will look in more detail at Don Cupitt’s The Meaning of the West. As arranged, that meeting will be on Wednesday 25 February 2009 at 1930 at David Lambourn’s house, 28 Frederick Road, Edgbaston.

The meeting after that will be on Wednesday 8 April. We’ll agree the subject next time but may want to look at some other stuff from Don Cupitt (Radical Theology, Above Us only Sky) or at the work of Theodore Zeldin.