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Great Books Council of San Francisco

Poetry Weekend 2024

November 16 – 17 via Zoom

The Unraveling: Poetry of the Early Twentieth Century

Between 1900 and the 1930s radical changes were happening in the world of poetry - a period of enormous social and economic upheaval. Innovations in technology and science were transforming the fabric of society and challenging established ideas while the legacy of World War I left a heavy and dark toll on the sensibilities of the period.


Attendees will focus on the forces that ushered in the poetry of the modernist era - a turning away from the Romanticism of Wordsworth, Keats and Shelley to invent new modes of expression to better reflect the uncertainty of the times. We will explore changes in both style and content through an examination of representative poems from this period.

A few changes in format


Saturday morning – Our Guest Presenter will set the stage for small group discussions

We are delighted to have Nicholas Jones as our guest presenter. He will open the Weekend with an interactive talk to provide a foundation and context for our exploration of the poetry of this period. Jones is a Professor Emeritus at Oberlin College where he specialized in English Literature and its connection with music and the arts. Educated at Harvard, Jones is a scholar, poet, lecturer, reviewer and translator. He has taught courses in poetics and literary theory focusing on poetry from Shakespeare and Milton through Keats and Shelley to the modern and contemporary periods. Since retirement to the Bay Area, he continues teaching classes through OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) on Homer, Shakespeare, Milton, the Romantics, and more.

Small group discussions

Poems chosen by the Poetry Selection Committee were published between 1900 – 1939.

Saturday, November 16   2 pm – 4 pm

The Helmsman by H.D.

• [as freedom is a breakfastfood] by e.e. cummings

• Tea at the Palaz of Hoon by Wallace Stevens

• Spring and All by William Carlos Williams

• The Wild Swans at Coole by W. B. Yeats

Open Mic

Following the afternoon session, participants will have an opportunity to read one of their own poems or share a favorite poem. 

Sunday, November 17 10 am - 12 pm

• The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot

Click on the Register Button to Register

You will receive a Zoom link in the registration confirmation email.