August – Poetry and Austen

August is turning out to be a busy, but exciting reading month.

Poetry Month

Red Room Poetry is once again hosting Poetry Month across Australia to promote awareness and visibility of poetry and to support the growing diversity of voices. They provide a handy list of 30 ways for the rest of us to celebrate poetry month here.

I’m keeping my plans do-able.

  • Follow Red Room Poetry on Twitter and Instagram for a daily poem.
  • Keep a poetry collection near my pillow and read a random line every night.
  • Maybe, create an online post of my Top 5 poems
  • Read ‘how to make a basket’ by Jazz Money ‘a Wiradjuri poet and artist currently based on sovereign Gadigal land in Sydney.’

Simmering with protest and boundless love, Jazz Money’s David Unaipon Award-winning collection, how to make a basket, examines the tensions of living in the Australian colony today. By turns scathing, funny and lyrical, Money uses her poetry as an extension of protest against the violence of the colonial state, and as a celebration of Blak and queer love. Deeply personal and fiercely political, these poems attempt to remember, reimagine and re-voice history.

Writing in both Wiradjuri and English language, Money explores how places and bodies hold memories, and the ways our ancestors walk with us, speak through us and wait for us.

Four out of 30 is a great start!

Austen in August

For ten years now, I have devoted some reading time in August to Jane Austen thanks to Adam @Roofbeamreader.

Previously I have reread most of Jane’s novels, plus her short story collections and some of her letters. I’ve read biographies, homages, spin-offs and send-ups. This year I have been saving my copy of Ruth Wilson’s The Jane Austen Remedy for Austen in August.

An uplifting and delightfully bookish memoir about an 89-year-old woman who reclaims her life by re-reading each of Jane Austen’s novels.

As she approached the age of seventy, Ruth Wilson began to have recurring dreams about losing her voice. Unable to dismiss her feelings of unexplainable sadness, she made the radical decision to retreat from her conventional life with her husband to a sunshine-yellow cottage in the Southern Highlands where she lived alone for the next decade.

Ruth had fostered a lifelong love of reading, and from the moment she first encountered Pride and Prejudice in the 1940s she had looked to Jane Austen’s heroines as her models for the sort of woman she wanted to become.

As Ruth settled into her cottage, she resolved to re-read Austen’s six novels and rediscover the heroines who had inspired her; to read between the lines of both the novels and her own life. And as she read, she began to reclaim her voice.

The Jane Austen Remedy is a beautiful, life-affirming memoir of love, self-acceptance and the curative power of reading. Published the year Ruth turns ninety, it is an inspirational account of the lessons learned from Jane Austen over nearly eight decades, as well as a timely reminder that it’s never too late to seize a second chance.

  • I also have the final book, Cold Light, in my #EdithReadalong to read.
  • I’m beginning to think I may not complete my 20 books of summer winter challenge this year. 11 books are completed and two more are half-read. I may have to resort to sneaky tactics and switch out some of the ones left for a few novellas!

Coming Up Next

  • I have three of the longlisted Booker Prize books on my TBR pile – The Colony | Audrey Magee, Case Study | Graeme Macrae Burnet and After Sappho | Selby Wynn Schwartz – can I read them before the winner is announced?
  • September is my turn to pick a book for my book group. I would like to pick something new and thought provoking and Australian – preferrably slim – any suggestions?
  • October is time for the 1929 Club. I have Nella Larsen’s novella Passing ready on my TBR pile.
  • In the wings for November and AusReadingMonth is a readalong of Patrick White’s Voss with Karen @Booker Talk and Bill @The Australian Legend. All comers welcome. This is another pretty hefty book though, so you may need time to prepare!
Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash
  • This post was written on the traditional land of the Wangal clan, one of the 29 clans of the Eora Nation within the Sydney basin. This Reading Life acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are this land’s first storytellers.

10 thoughts on “August – Poetry and Austen

  1. I did a Monday Musings on Poetry month last August and plan to do one again this year. Not sure yet though how much poetry I will actually be able to read. I’d love to join the Voss read along but am not sure I can actually do it.

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    1. If I can read some of Jazz Money’s poems and write a couple of poetry posts this month I will be happy with that.
      It would be lovely to have you with us for Voss, but I understand completely how hard it is to commit to other people’s reading plans!

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    1. I read Sanditon a long time ago and it is overdue for a reread, but I’m also very curious to see what Wilson has done with her book. It’s meant to be part memoir part analysis/discussion about each book.

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  2. L&F was apparently written for the amusement of her family. I like to picture the Austen family sitting around the fire, reading stories aloud to make each other laugh with their cleverness and wit.

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  3. I don’t read a lot of poetry, although I do love it. I have a few books on my shelves and should maybe try out some of them for August. Ruth Wilson’s book is going up on my list. I recently watched the new Persuasion on Netflix. Have you seen it? What did you think? I did not really like it.

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