I just ran into this title, A Little, Aloud: An anthology of prose and poetry for reading aloud to someone you a care for, to be published in September and it reminds me of the pleasure of being read to or reading out loud to someone. We remember it from childhood. The unique comfort of being read to – at bedtime, when we were ill, as a salve for the bumps and bruises of life. We knew it, we felt it. And now, science is showing it to be true.
We are on the cusp of a reading revolution. Increasingly, research is uncovering an intimate connection between reading and well being. The seemingly simple act of being read to brings remarkable health and happiness benefits. It stimulates thought and memory, encourages the sharing of ideas and feelings, hopes and fears. It enriches our lives and minds.
This unique book offers a selection of prose and poetry especially suitable for reading aloud – to your husband or wife, a sick parent or child, an elderly relative. Or to someone who finds it hard to concentrate for long, someone who finds reading difficult or simply someone who has never been given the chance to get into a really good book. With short introductions and discussion topics for each piece there's something here for everyone – from Shakespeare and Black Beauty to Elizabeth Jennings and Helen Dunmore. It puts great books in the hands and minds of people who need them.
Then I ran into this older article from The Guardian, an English newspaper about the healing properties of being read to and book discussion groups:
On the Healing Powers of Books by Blake Morrison.
A really interesting article!
I am not a real follower of poetry but I understand that it is meant to be read out loud and so I gave it a try with this poem by Lucille Clifton called Homage to My Hips:
these hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in.
they don’t fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don’t like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved.
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
I have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!
Now this is a slightly embarrassing poem but it made me laugh-especially if you say it out loud-try it, it is certainly funny!
It isn't stately-try this:
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
or this from the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner:
All in a hot and copper sky,
The bloody sun, at noon,
Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the moon.
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
Well, I am not particularly a reader of poems but I do like a big epic story!
Oh speaking of which, I just started reading the Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell. And Wow! Caught me on page two!
It takes place at the turn of the 18th century, in Edo-era Japan. The Dutch East India Company has requisitioned the artificial island of Dejima, in the bay of Nagasaki, as a trading post. Theirs is the most significant contact Japan has had with the outside world since Portuguese missionaries were expelled by the Tokugawa shogunate, and Christianity eradicated. Dutch trade on the island is now the one opening Japan has to the outside world – a tiny valve for the exchange of goods and ideas.
Jacob de Zoet is an uptight young Dutch book-keeper, charged with cleaning up the accounts of an operation riddled with corruption as Dutch power fades and English naval power looms. Possessing no navy of its own, Japan is both fanatically insular and increasingly vulnerable. Encountering a beautiful but scarred Japanese midwife who has been granted some limited contact with European medicine, Jacob finds himself in thrall to a love forbidden by tradition, culture, politics and law.
The object of this ginger-haired naive's hopeless desire, Miss Aibagawa, is bound by the highly stratified social order of Japanese society and then purchased by the abbot of a secretive mountain shrine, where a form of sexual slavery is practised by the monks. A rescue attempt, in the form of a samurai raid on the shrine, briefly makes you suspect the novel is going to turn on a thriller plot but, thrilling as this episode actually is, it rather turns on the murk of politics and the complex allegiances of a feudal society. Miss Aibagawa is no cipher of the mysterious "other": her own medical gifts prove more useful to her than her would-be rescuers and, as a character, she is at least as fully realised as de Zoet.
Well, back to it. Talk to you later,
LyndaOne ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe