Courses peruse literature, history

I love reading and have been accused more than once of being a readaholic.

By Marlene Robertson

I love reading and have been accused more than once of being a readaholic.

I wasn’t so sure about poetry of the First World War, but was soon going to find out.

In late September and early October I packed my book bag and was on the move again, checking out two more ElderCollege pilot outreach programs.

The first stop was Berwick on the Lake where I met some pretty interesting people. Well into their 80s and 90s, they were still sharp as a tack and eager to keep their love of learning finely honed.

The course instructor, Elizabeth Marsland, got everyone’s creative juices flowing with Stepping Beyond Literature and Poetry of the First World War.

Needless to say, there was a lively discussion and lots of opinions offered by the eager participants. The parting comment was “as long as you have a book, you’re never alone or lonely’.

Not a bad thought. If you can’t get out into the world, have the world come to you.

Our second stop was at General G.R. Pearkes, Buttertubs Hall. Here Marsland’s theme was Literature Beyond Poetry and Non-Fiction.

Our participants were a younger group and there was a spirited discussion on favourite authors and books. Then, we veered off to literature and film, and how over the years film has been tailored to meet the audience’s expectations.

We also touched on a favourite subject of mine – First Nations Storytelling and Legends.

Our next discussion focused on the history of the novel, then on to poetry of the First World War. It was a fascinating and enlightening discussion about how wars actually gave us a sense of nationhood.

The poetry certainly said it best and included everything from ‘hate’ poetry, a not so subtle form of propaganda written by one side against the other and beautiful tributes to the fallen.

I had no idea there were so many poems about the First World War. By some estimates, over a million were printed in the first month of the war, and as Remembrance Day approaches, let’s all take a moment to remember Canada’s fallen soldiers

So in the end, I loved poetry of the First World War. Sobering as the subject matter may be, ultimately it’s about reading something and learning from it.

If you’re a life-long learner, or want to be, and are over 50, ElderCollege is an affordable and fun way to keep that grey matter working. Check it out today.

For more information, please call toll free 1-866-734-6252 or e-mail at

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