Friday, 13 August 2010

We are

happy to announce our first speaker for the new year: Christopher Reid. Amongst other things, Reid has worked as a Poetry Editor for Faber & Faber, edited the 'Selected Letters of Ted Hughes', taught Creative Writing at the University of Hull and has been awarded numerous prizes for his poetry, including the Somerset Maugham Award, the Hawthornden Prize and more recently, the 2009 Costa Book Award for his collection 'A Scattering'. But prizes aren't everything, so here's a poem instead:


Late home one night, I found
she was not yet home herself.
So I got into bed and waited
under my blanket mound,
until I heard her come in
and hurry upstairs.
My back was to the door.
Without turning round,
I greeted her, but my voice
made only a hollow, parched-throated
k-, k-, k- sound,
which I could not convert into words
and which, anyway, lacked
the force to carry.
Nonplussed, but not distraught,
I listened to her undress,
then sidle along the far side
of our bed and lift the covers.
Of course, I’d forgotten she’d died.
Adjusting my arm for the usual
cuddle and caress,
I felt mattress and bedboards
welcome her weight
as she rolled and settled towards me,
but, before I caught her,
it was already too late
and she’d wisped clean away.

Reid will be reading on Tuesday 19th October. More details to follow.

In February

'The Shirley Society' released its very own creative writing magazine 'volta'. The first issue included poetry, prose, photographs and soundtracks inspired by the city. Each issue was compiled by hand and came in its own cloth bag. To celebrate, we held a launch party, ate grapes, drank wine, and listened to the contributors reading their work. 'Varsity' liked 'volta' so much it included us in a feature (, and Zygmunt Day ('House Fire'), even wrote a poem for the occasion:

'volta'- A Poem in One Canto

'April is the cruellest month' T.S. Eliot

Book I

I've penned a poem, for the eve
That 'volta' will be presented.
An eager debutante seems she,
Like in that episode of the O.C.

Canto I

Though Muses deign to ply me oft
Tempestuous winds do skew my path-
I'm tossed to, fro, and I'm tossed off
The great cliff of despair and loss.

Whilst wandering thus, melancholy,
I chanced upon some Poesy
In this great volume, vers libre,
(whose style Modernity)

Was applied with ample wit
That is to say, it was not shit
And so to me it seemed right fit
That I should extol its merit:

So let us worship at the altar
Of this great and worthy 'volta'.
Lifted thus from being a sulker,
I wrote this ode on Sainsbury's paper.

The next issue of 'volta' will be available in October.

Last October

saw 'The Shirley Society' re-launch and the introduction of 'The Union' meetings (which will be re-starting come October 2010). We met in the bedrooms of St Catharine's students, using hand-made posters pinned on walls and in the library to advertise meeting times and locations.Until the porters found out and forced us underground; locations became secret, and we would end our communication with 'Don't tell the porters.' Members came carrying poetry or prose (their own or stolen) under a given theme: beginnings, travel, time, translation, comedy... and shared their discoveries with the group. Throughout the year an array of visting speakers presented talks, readings and slide-shows: Sophie Hannah, Samir El-Youssef, Camilla Lewis, Nicholas Penny and Max Stafford Clark. A calendar of next year's events will be posted soon.