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People are Talking About OWLL Programs

News and Views of OWLL Programs

Edmund Grant wrote about the O.W.L.L. courses in the Lexington Minuteman

The article focused on Tom Daley's course, "Poetry: A Comical-Anecdotal History of the Poetry of the English-Speaking World, Replete with Gossip, Parodies and Scurrilous/Ridiculous Reviews!"

Poetry: A Comical-Anecdotal History of the Poetry of the English-Speaking World, Replete with Gossip, Parodies, and Scurrilous/Ridiculous Reviews!

I’ll be telling stories and reciting parodies, making jokes, retailing the juiciest gossip, and giving snippets of the most extreme reviews of poets and the poems they wrote in English from the time of Chaucer on. Along the way, I’ll be giving a biographical and literary background to the material, reading and reciting some of the poems that were the butt of ridicule, or the object of either savage scorn or cloying praise, or were somehow involved in the stories.

Thomas Daley, speaker Tom Daley teaches poetry writing online and at Lexington Community Education. A recipient of the Dana Award in Poetry, his poems have been published in Harvard Review, Boston Globe, and elsewhere. He has written and performed plays about Emily Dickinson and Gerard Manley Hopkins. His recently published book is House You Cannot Reach—Poems in the Voice of My Mother and Other Poems.

Read the article online at the Lexington Minuteman.

Comments by Elizabeth Kenney, who taught the O.W.L.L. course “The Wilderness Within: Macbeth” in the Fall of 2016.

Many months ago, I chose Shakespeare’s Macbeth to teach this Fall at the Lexington Older, Wiser Lifelong Learners (OWLL) program. I was not thinking at all about what an interesting moment Fall 2016 would be to work on a play about vaulting ambition and ruling, and could not have known that as a nation we might be feeling a bit as if we were wandering in a howling wilderness at this point in the national elections.

This is the third play I have read with OWLL – following Lear and Tempest. Reading Shakespeare with the older wiser lifelong learners is very different from teaching Shakespeare to college or graduate students. The OWLL students range in age from mid-sixties to mid-nineties. They have been college professors and engineers, therapists and bankers. Some have taught English; others haven’t read literature since college. After one OWLL class, a woman said, “I realize now why I hated Shakespeare in high school – I didn’t have enough experience. I hadn’t lived enough.”

I teach the class with the assistance of my 90 year old friend and neighbor, Richard Edelman, a retired actor, director, and theater professor who provides stirring readings of the soliloquies, insight into staging the plays, and historical theater lore. Our focus is not only the pleasure of Shakespeare’s language, but also the pleasure of thinking and talking about big ideas: what is the meaning of life, what does it mean to be human, to age, to love, to lose, what is the origin of evil, and the relationship between fate and free will. Outside the university classroom, we can discuss such issues without ironic “air quotes” around them. Unlike undergraduate or even graduate students, at OWLL, everyone is old enough to know what they are talking about.