James Joyce, WB Yeats and the future of the group

Tuesday 16 June

Martina Evans’ enthusiasm for Joyce last week gave me the impetus to choose a second story of his, also from Dubliners: Eveline, and in keeping with that, a second WB Yeats poem, The Circus Animals’ Desertion, because it was used by Mimi Khalvati as the inspiration for a commission by the Royal Literary Fund which became an elegy for her mother.

Yeats wrote the poem in ottava rima, used by Boccaccio and it contributed to how the sonnet developed. All this is technical stuff, but the poem itself is one of Yeats’ last and some critics suggest in it he’s mocking his own career as a writer.

The group was mixed in its response to Joyce, but the debate was good. At its centre is a strange phrase, deveraun seraun, which is either nonsense or (more likely) a corrupted Gaelic meaning ‘the end of pleasure is pain.’

And for most group members, this was the last meeting and some won’t be carrying on next year, but many will, so that’s fantastic.

Some of us met for cake and feedback and this is some of what people said they liked about the group:
– the themes suggested by Fabrica’s exhibitions
– the fact that I’m not an expert
– this blog
– the egalitarian nature of the group i.e. everyone’s a beginner
– the emphasis on being committed to the group for the year. One member said the group was as important as the texts to her. One member liked the fact that she’d come to terms with being in a group (she’d found groups terrifying in the past).

At the moment, I’m planning on re-starting the group on September 29. When I have confirmed dates for the room, I’ll put them on this blog and email them to existing group members. If you’re reading this and would like to join, please email me: wills.jackie   (at)    googlemail.com