Social Outreach in Covid Times

Virtual Book Club: A Covid Outreach Initiative by Iridescent

Iridescent: The English Creative Writing Society of JDMC hosted a Virtual Book Club for the society members. The aim of this exercise was to encourage the members to read and discuss their perspectives with fellow readers. It was a successful endeavour as members not only put their perspectives forward but there was an active engagement amongst them over various perspectives. It was also a well appreciated initiative during the lockdown.

The discussions were held once a week in a WhatsApp group from 11th April 2020 to 12th May 2020. The members discussed a novella, two poems and a short story. The texts were decided in advance and calendars were prepared to help the members take out time from their day and read the texts regularly.

The first text that was discussed was Animal Farm by George Orwell. The discussion took place over the course of two weeks. The members read the novella according to the calendar and two rounds of discussion took place. The first discussion was about the first half of the novella and the second discussion was about the second half of the novella. During the course of discussions, members put forward their understanding of the novella, its context and form.

This was followed by a discussion on two poems over the course of two weeks. The poems were "One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop and "Villanelle" by Agha Shahid Ali. Both of the poems are written in French poetry style, Villanelle. The members discussed the ideas behind the poems and how the form was used to bring out the ideas. One of the major takeaways from this discussion was the enthusiasm of the members to incorporate this writing style into their writings.

The last text was a short story "Overcoat" by Nikolai Gogol. The members had a good time reading the story as they discussed the nuances of writing and the events that took place in the story.

A conference meeting took place on 21st May 2020 to conclude the virtual meetings. The members discussed their experience over the course of one month. The initiative helped them during this period of physical distancing. A lot of them started to read more books during the course of this activity. The book club was concluded with members giving each other book recommendations.

The book club was a successful endeavour as the group actively took initiative to discuss the texts. Moreover, it inspired them to read and write more during these trying times.