The poetry of discussion
Great Books book club. (HANDOUT / March 27, 2012)
Our Sulzer Regional Library Great Books Discussion Group has been meeting for more than 30 years. Annually, we pick a theme to guide our book selections and discussions. This year's theme is morality. Last year we read books dealing with Chicago history.
Our discussions are led by classics scholar Peter Amberson. Dan Lewickyj selects the books; he also writes and performs an original poem in response to each book we discuss.
What we read
Our favorite books are those with excellent writing. We think good prose is more important than plot, characterization or any sort of political or social agenda.
Some of our favorite writers include Mark Twain, Anthony Powell, Marcel Proust and William Shakespeare.
"The Pillow Book" by Sei Shonagon, "Beowulf" translated by Seamus Heaney, "The Education of Henry Adams" by Henry Adams, "Njal's Saga" by anonymous, and the poetry of Horace.
Although we admired the journalism in "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair, we found the writing to be poor, the characters one-dimensional and the racial stereotypes offensive.
"Critique of Pure Reason" by Immanuel Kant, "The Anatomy of Melancholy" by Robert Burton, and "The Ring and the Book" by Robert Browning.
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A Big Man
A response to "A Raisin in the Sun" by Lorraine Hansberry
Walter Younger bet on his death and won
A fortune for his beneficiaries;
He sold his portion short to see if one
Lot could have a hand in their destinies.
Instead of boxing numbers, he engaged
A herculean monthly premium
And worked himself into an early grave
To yield timely indemnification.
It came to him on a long summer evening,
sitting deep in the sagging couch, between
Chicken-feed paychecks: as his head sank lower
He read the ragged handwriting revealed
In a rug worn way past its nat of dreams