Poetry Reading Group

Discover Poetry

Since October 2017 I’ve been leading a poetry reading group at Dove Cottage every month (except January, when the cottage and everyone’s caves are closed).

Since October 2018 the reading group is held on the THIRD THURSDAY of the month, not the first as it used to be.

The sessions are FREE and open to anyone, whether you gobble up poems on a weekly basis or haven’t touched one in years, if ever.


You can book ahead by the following this link, or drop in on the day if there is room.

Every month we’ll read and talk about 4 poems: 3 seasonal choices and 1 which will reflect current events in some way. I’ll share the poems each month on this page, so if you want to spend a bit longer getting to know them, you can.

It also means if you can’t get along to Grasmere on the day, but you want to join in, you can read the poems, and leave comments or questions here. If you leave them ahead of the session, we’ll try and bring your comments in to our discussion.

Each session starts at 7.30 and will finish around 9. Come straight to the cottage door and knock, if you don’t see anyone. The lights will be on, the fire will be lit, and the kettle hot.


December 19th 2019

This month’s session will again be in the new Learning Space at the Wordsworth Trust (in the back of the old tea rooms).

Wintering by Sylvia Plath

Trio by Edwin Morgan

Winter Solstice by Tess Jolly

Wildcard: Dead Stars by Ada Limón

All 4 as a word doc: December Discover Poetry 19

November 21st 2019

This month’s session will be in the new Learning Space at the Wordsworth Trust (in the back of the old tea rooms).

Dream with Horse by Aria Aber (not online)

In November by Lisel Mueller

November, late in the day by John M Ridland

Wildcard: The Nation by Roy Fisher (not online)

All 4 as a word doc: November Discover Poetry 19

October 17th 2019

Plums by Gillian Clarke

Landscape as Werewolf by William Dunlop

Spout by John McCullough (not online)

All 4 as a word doc: October Discover Poetry 19

Wildcard: The Border: A Double Sonnet byAlberto Ríos

September 19th 2019

In which we return to Dove Cottage!

Absolute September by Mary Jo Salter

The Last Days of Summer Before the First Frost by Tim Bowling

To the Light of September by W. S. Merwin

Wildcard: Bad New Government by Emily Berry

All four as a word doc: September Discover Poetry 19

August 15th 2019

Lake District by John Betjeman (not online)

August by Dorothy Parker

Vespers by Louise Glück

Wildcard: A New Gun Folds Up to Look Just Like a Smartphone by Brandon Amico

All four poems as a word doc: August Discover Poetry 19

July 18th 2019

NB: This month again we’ll be at RYDAL MOUNT not Dove Cottage.

Although we thought last month would be our last at Rydal Mount, Dove Cottage is not yet ready for visitors again, poetic or otherwise, so we’re staying at Rydal Mount until September. Like a lovely long holiday. Thanks as always to Emily & Matt for accommodating us!

The Valley of the Stour with Dedham in the Distance by Emily Hasler

Three Summers by Amy Key

The Rushbearing at Ambleside by LEL (Letitia Elizabeth Landon)

Wildcard: Moon Landing by Helen Ivory.

All four poems as a word doc: July Discover Poetry 19

June 27th 2019

NB: This month again we’ll be at RYDAL MOUNT not Dove Cottage.

More Than Enough by Marge Piercy

Walking past a Rose this June Morning by Alice Oswald

Summer Solstice by Stacie Cassarino

Wildcard (in a continuation of a Laureate theme!): Speaking Tree by Joy Harjo

All four poems as a word doc: June Discover Poetry 19

May 16th 2019 

NB: This month again we’ll be at RYDAL MOUNT not Dove Cottage.

‘Swallows’ by Kathleen Jamie

XXX (from Thirsty) by Dionne Brand

Grasshopper Warbler by Liz Berry (not online)

Wildcard: ‘The Practical Way to Heaven’ by Simon Armitage

All four poems as a word doc: May 2019 Discover Poetry

April 18th 2019

NB: This month again we’ll be at RYDAL MOUNT not Dove Cottage.

‘April Rain Song’ by Langston Hughes

‘Swifts’ by Anne Stevenson

‘Spring’ by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Wildcard: Physics for the unwary student by Pippa Goldschmidt

All four poems as a word doc: April 2019 Discover Poetry

March 21st 2019

NB: This month we’ll be at RYDAL MOUNT not Dove Cottage, where they have very kindly offered to host us whilst the cottage is being renovated.

Extract from ‘The Book of Praise’ by Lorna Crozier (not online)

‘Daffodils’ by Alice Ostriker

‘Massacre’ by Ghayath Almadhoun translated from the Arabic by Catherine Cobham

‘Last Born’ by Hinemoana Baker

All 4 as a word doc: Discover Poetry March 19

February 21st 2019

February 29 by Jane Hirshfield

Almond Blossom by Fiona Benson

Saints Day Triolet: Saint Valentine by Deborah Paredez

Wildcard: ‘What kind of times are these’ by Adrienne Rich

All 4 as a word doc: February 2019 Discover Poetry

December 18th 2018

NB: This month’s session is on a TUESDAY not Thursday.

The World by Jennifer Chang

Winter Solstice by Hilda Morley

Christmas Tree by James Merrill

Wildcard: Have yourself a Brexit little Christmas by Brian Bilston

All 3 as a word doc: Discover Poetry December

November 15th 2018

‘Portrait of the Quince as an Older Woman’ by Ellen Phethean

‘November: Between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice, Today’ by Emily Jungmin Yoon

‘Falling Leaves and Early Snow’ by Kenneth Rexroth


‘I Woke Up’ by Jameson Fitzpatrick

All four as a word doc: Discover Poetry November

October 18th 2018

‘Quickthorn’ by Siobhán Campbell

‘Overheard on a Salt Marsh’ by Harold Monro

‘Indian Summer‘ by Diane Glancy

Wildcard: ‘‘What’s Mine’ by Samantha Walton

All four as a word doc: Discover Poetry October

September 6th 2018

‘September’ by Dorothy Lawrenson

‘Hedgehog Hiding at Harvest in Hills Above Monmouth’ by Helen Dunmore

‘Last August Hours Before the Year 2000’ by Naomi Shihab Nye

Wildcard pending!

Word Doc: Discover Poetry September

August 2nd 2018

‘A Parking Lot in West Houston’ by Monica Youn

‘Elegy’ by Natasha Trethewey

‘Moon’ by Kathleen Jamie

Wildcard: At North Farm by John Ashberry

Word Doc: Discover Poetry August

July 5th 2018

‘Last Bus Ride in July – a Mother Speaks’  by Gerda Stevenson

‘The Big Mistake’ by Jim Carruth

‘Preface’ from Swims by Elizabeth-Jane Burnett

Wildcard (not available online): ‘What Happens to the Animals When the Woods are Burning?’ by Lorna Crozier

All four poems as a word doc: July Discover Poetry

June 7th 2018

‘Adlestrop’ by Edward Thomas

‘Easing’ by Alison Prince

‘How to Move Away’ by Lynn Pedersen

Our wildcard: ‘Try to Praise the Mutilated World‘, by Adam Zagajewski, translated by Clare Cavanagh

All four as a word doc: June discover poetry

May 3rd 2018

I Go Back to May 1937 by Sharon Olds

The Burning Kite by Ouyang Jianghe trans. Austin Woerner

Scotland by Alastair Reid

Wildcard: Borderliner by Hannah Lowe

All four poems as a word doc: Discover Poetry – May


April 5th

In April the session will be lead by Eileen Pun in my absence. Our April poems are:

‘Amsterdam’ by Megan Fernandes

‘City Lilacs’ by Helen Dunmore

‘when faces called flowers float out of the ground’ by eecummings

‘Corruptive’ by Olena Kalytiak Davis

4 poems as a word doc: April Discover Poetry

March 1st

Our poems for March are:

‘Late February’ by Ted Kooser

‘The End of March’ by Elizabeth Bishop

‘Not Ideas About the Thing but the Thing Itself’ by Wallace Stevens

and our wild card is the catch-all ‘Instructions on Not Giving Up’ by Ada Limón, though if you missed October’s session, you might want to scroll up and read Jamaal May’s ‘The Gun Joke’.

4 poems as a word doc: March Discover Poetry

February 1st

‘February’ by Boris Pasternak, trans. Sasha Dugdale.

‘To the New Year’ by W.S.Merwin

‘Long Disconsolate Lines’ by Jane Cooper

3 poems as a word doc: Discover Poetry February

Our wild card is Ursula le Guin’s ‘January Night Prayer’.

December 7th

‘In the Mid-Midwinter’ by Liz Lochhead

‘A boy casting snow on winter barley’ by David Morley

‘Various Portents’ by Alice Oswald

December’s wildcard is ’57 varieties of Brexit’ by Brian Bilston.

All four poems as a word document: December discover poetry poems

Thanks to everyone who came along for the last group of 2017. As we spoke about, the ballad quoted in ‘In the Mid-Midwinter’ was Sir Patrick Spens (you can see Dorothy refer it here on Tuesday 4th May 1802). The other quote, ‘the light comes back’, is from Norman MacCaig’s poem ‘The White Bird’.

There is no meeting in January, but we’ll be back to mark the beginning of the light coming back on the first Thursday of February.

November 2nd

‘All Souls” by Sasha Dugdale

‘November’ by Maggie Dietz

‘Pumpkin’ by Theresa Muñoz

Novembers topical Wild Card is ‘Warning’ by Malika Booker. 

All four poems as a word document: Discover Poetry November Reading

October 5th

‘Blackberry Eating’ by Galway Kinnell

‘Glamourie’ by Kathleen Jamie

‘The Season of Phantasmal Peace’ by Derek Walcott

All three poems as a word document: Discover Poetry October Reading

October’s Wild Card poem is ‘The Gun Joke’ by Jamaal May.