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Seminar 4:
John Betjeman

Master of Light Verse and Fancier of England's Churches

John Betjeman (1906-1984) once wrote, "History must not be written with bias — both sides must be given, even if there is only one side." With this in mind, the presenters will dialogue about this celebrated and celebratory English poet, who served as poet laureate from 1972. Betjeman explored in depth the resonance, if not indeed the sacrality, of English places across the centuries. There will be readings, and his multiple, even unique, accomplishments as a poet will be examined. Betjeman's legacy as a campaigner for architectural heritage (not least in Melbourne in 1961 and 1971) will be explored, including his enthusiasm for the Anglo-Catholic architect, Sir Ninian Comper.

Further, the presenters will compare Betjeman's contribution as a moralist to that of (among others) W.H. Auden, Peter Ackroyd, and Rowan Williams. The evening will try to show how Betjeman, Auden and Williams understand Christianity as a creative explanation for new discoveries and a main resource to address new ethical dilemmas. Betjeman travelled comfortably on the main track, but delighted in the many side tracks it had to offer. The function of light verse, the sense of place and heritage, tennis parties and steam trains: the evening will provide plenty of such diversions, while keeping firmly to the map.

Date Thursday 10 May
Time 7.30 pm – 9.30 pm
Venue St Peter's Hall, Eastern Hill
Cost $15 (concession: $12)
Speakers Dr William Johnston
Dr Johnston studied at Harvard University, and he taught European cultural history and the history of world religions at the University of Massachusetts, and the history of Christianity at the Yarra Theological Union.

Philip Harvey
Philip is a poet, librarian and writer. He runs the Carmelite Library in Middle Park. He is Poetry Editor of the Jesuit online journal Eureka Street, and is a member of the Committee of the Institute for Spiritual Studies.

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