The Global Reading Group—A Virtual Literary Salon

Breaking the Cycle: A Case for Teaching Poetry and History Together


In conjunction with my chapbooks of poetry on women in historical times (Katherine Aragon: A Collection of Poems, Finishing Line Press, 2016 and Notations: The Imagined Diary of Julian of Norwich, Red Bird Chapbooks, 2017), I am now offering seminars on interdisciplinary study of history through poetry. Here’s an example:


It is generally believed that Sir Wyatt introduced the sonnet into the English language but how and why he did this is a compelling story.

Sir Thomas Wyatt was a member of King Henry the VIII’s court and in love with Anne Boleyn. Unfortunately for Wyatt, so was Henry. As Henry was King, Henry got what he wanted and Wyatt was shipped off to Italy where he discovered the Petrarchan sonnet.

Henry finally recalled his friend home but Thomas was still besotted by Anne and wrote sonnet after sonnet about his desires.  In “Whoso list to hunt? I know there is a hind!” Wyatt broods over his love for Anne Boleyn yet he admits that he must give up the hunt as she belongs now to the King.

Draw from the deer; but as she fleeth afore

Fainting I follow; I leave off therefore,

Since in a net I seek to hold the wind.

Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt

As well as I, may spend his time in vain !

And graven with diamonds in letters plain,

There is written her fair neck round about ;

‘ Noli me tangere ; for Cæsar’s I am,

And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.’

Wyatt may have given up the hunt but he still was an Anne Boleyn groupie and hung out in her salon with the other handsome amusing men she cultivated. Thomas was one of her favorites, like Mark Smeaton, the court musician. Even though the King’s best friend, Charles Brandon, and others warned Wyatt to be careful, he was caught in Thomas Cromwell’s duplicitous net and rounded up with six or so other men and held prisoner in the Tower of London. Five of these men were eventually condemned to death and executed but Wyatt was acquitted and released due to his father’s connections.

Life Lesson: “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s” or “It’s Good To Have Friends In High Places.”


The Global Reading Group, established in February 2013, is a virtual literary salon that follows Horace’s definition of the aims of poetry, “either to please or to educate” (“aut delectare aut prodesse est”).  We generally read and discuss one classic work of literature every four weeks.

NEXT UP: Tale of Genji
September 15-October 26 2017

The Tale of Genji is  a classic work of Japanese literature  written by the 11tch century noblewoman Murasaki Shikubu.  Click here to join. 


Free and open to all. 


Here’s a post from one of our readers in Scotland.

And many thanks to Moira for asking me to be a guest blogger!

Alice-Catherine is available to lead “classic” reading groups or literary salons in person or in the virtual world. Past groups have included Dante’s The Inferno; Alice in Wonderland (of course) by Lewis Carroll; Henry VIII by Shakespeare; The Aeneid of Virgil; Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol; Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift; Beowulf; The Nibelungenlied;  Milton’s Paradise Lost; , The Iliad; Omeros by Derek Walcott; The Poetic Edda; The Wild Duck by Henrik Ibsen; Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen;  The Persians by Aeschylus; The Song of Roland, Little Women; Lysistrata by Aristophanes; The History of the Peloponnesian War; Canterbury Tales by Chaucer; The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov; The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton; Os Lusiades by Camöes; The Odyssey be Homer; The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne; Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; The Mabinogion and Metamorphoses by Ovid.

In addition, Alice-Catherine offers lectures and workshops on intertextuality, “found poetry” and the power of medieval women in poetry. Contact:

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