Exploring Short Stories & Poetry

Spend ten weeks reading and sharing poems and short stories? What a perfect way to spend time - easy I thought. But then questions arose - how to choose out of all the literature out there? And how were we going to share it? Would I give them reading lists and homework? 

At the beginning we spent a bit of time discussing how we wanted to approach the session - we thought we would all come fresh to the material - so no-one had it in advance, we were all equal. We decided all work needed to be read out loud: I asked people if they wanted to take turns reading. After much discussion, they said they preferred to listen to me reading to them. I asked if they had favourite authors they wanted to cover, but finally we agreed it was more interesting to be introduced to a poet or author they hadn’t encountered before.

The pleasure wasn’t just in discussing the stories or the meaning of poems, but the way the conversation took new directions as members of the group would relate their own personal stories. We touched on quite risqué issues, and had both laughter and some tears. Everyone listened and contributed in a sensitive and generous way. It was a real journey of discovery, and we all got a tremendous amount from the process.

Ellen Phethean, Exploring Short Stories & Poetry facilitator

Where? Room 8, City Library

When? 10 workshops on Wednesday afternoons (1:30pm - 3:30pm) between October 2012 & January 2013

What happened? The group was facilitated by Ellen Phethean, and worked with researcher Dr Viccy Adams to explore and record their experiences of taking part. Extracts of the short stories and poetry discussed in the workshops were dislayed at the Workshop Celebration event on 12 December 2012.


Exploring Short Stories & Poetry reading list


  • 'The 24-Hour Dog' by Jeanette Winterson [short story]
  • 'Handbag' by Ruth Fanlight [poetry]
  • 'Climbing My Grandfather' by Andrew Waterhouse [poetry]
  • 'Warning' by Jenny Joseph [poetry]

Week 1

  • 'Want' by Grace Paley [short story]
  • 'On the Ward with TV, iPod and Telephone' by Kasia Boddy [short story]

Week 2

  • 'Mrs Midas' by Carol Ann Duffy [poetry]
  • 'Mrs Icarus' by Carol Ann Duffy [poetry]
  • 'Frau Freud' by Carol Ann Duffy [poetry]
  • 'My son' by John Hegley [poetry]
  • 'Cardiff' by John Hegley [poetry]
  • 'Drive Slow, Man Chortling or April 1941' by Ogden Nash [poetry]
  • 'Caedmon's song' by U A Fanthorpe [poetry]
  • 'Jonson at Hawthornden' by U A Fanthorpe [poetry]
  • 'Self-Portrait, Nude with Steering Wheel' by Paul Durcan [poetry]

Week 3

  • 'Sticks and Stones' by Trezza Azzopardi [short story]

Week 4

  • extract from 'Beowulf' trans. Seamus Heaney [poetry]
  • Upon Westminister Bridge' by William Wordsworth [poetry]
  • 'Prayer' by Carol Ann Duffy [poetry]
  • 'One Art' by Elizabeth Bishop [poetry]
  • 'Some rules' by Wendy Cope [poetry]
  • 'Hush Ye Hush Ye' by Pippa Little [poetry]
  • 'Northerly' by Pippa Little [poetry]
  • 'This is Just to Say' by William Carlos Williams [poetry]
  • Haiku by Ransetsu [poetry]
  • Haiku by Geoffrey Daniel [poetry]
  • Haiku by Adele David [poetry]

Week 5

  • 'Running' by Julia Darling [short story]
  • 'Why, Honey' by Raymond Carver [short story]

Week 6

  • 'Macavity: The Mystery Cat' by T S Eliot [poetry]
  • 'A Cat' by Edward Thomas' [poetry]
  • 'The Thought-Fox' by Ted Hughes [poetry]
  • 'Snake' by D H Lawrence [poetry]
  • 'The Mad Cow Talks Back' by Jo Shapcott [poetry]
  • 'Cow' by Selima Hill [poetry]
  • 'Tarantulas on the Lifebuoy' by Thomas Lux [poetry]
  • 'The Beast' by Jeni Couzyn [poetry]
  • 'Donkey' by Jackie Kay [poetry]

Week 7

  • 'The Library' by Romesh  Gunesekera [short story]
  • 'Bertie, May & Mrs Fish' by Xandra Bingley [short story]

Week 8

  • 'Season Song' by Anon, trans from the Irish by Flann O'Brien [poetry]
  • 'Spring is like a perhaps hand' by e e cummings [poetry]
  • 'Hayfever' by Elaine Feinstein [poetry]
  • extract from 'A Shropshire Lad' by A E Housman [poetry]
  • 'November' by Thomas Hood [poetry]
  • 'Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening' by Robert Frost [poetry]
  • 'Christmas Market' by Mike Harding [poetry]
  • 'Journey of the Magi' by T S Elliot (to read at home) [poetry]

Week 9

  • 'Eveline' by James Joyce [short story]

Week 10

  • 'Journey of the Magi' by T.S.Eliot [poetry]
  • 'The Eye' by Alice Munro [short story]