by Don Queen, OLLI member

Best-selling writer, Roger Housden, author of over 20 books and lecturer on literature, travel, and art, will be joining the OLLI faculty this fall to teach a class entitled “Discovering England through its Poets, Writers, and Landscapes.” Housden’s work has been featured in Oprah Magazine, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and he has given poetry readings at the Herbst Theater. Additionally, he teaches writing and associated subjects at the California Institute of Integral Studies and the Institute for Noetic Sciences, both in San Francisco.

Roger Housden pictures the course as a journey through the many areas of England which writers have been writing about for hundreds of years. “What I really want to do is evoke the big soul of this little country that I came from, and I want to do that through literature and landscape.… Now, what England really excels at, and always has excelled at, is the written word. And in literature--English Literature--the landscape is a character equally important as any other in the great novels. And actually some of the greatest poetry in the English language is about English landscape. So, in my course, we will travel through literature, and with the aid of slide shows, we will travel through England from the White Cliffs of Dover, to Thomas Hardy’s west country, to Jane Austen's Bath, to Wordsworth’s Lake District--around the country--and as we do that, I hope that not only will you see some of this remarkable land and hear some of the literature that connects to it, but that you will also begin to find the sense, or the taste, of England as a land of the imagination.”

Housden says that he “grew up in the cleft of a Cotswold valley on the edge of Bath.” He moved to the United States in 1998 and now lives in Sausalito with the similarly inspiring landscape of Mount Tamalpais. He graduated from the University of Birmingham with a degree in European Literature and Languages in the UK.  When asked how he began writing, Housden responded:

To begin with, I was a journalist (a freelance journalist), for the Guardian Newspaper in England. But that was a long time ago, that was in my twenties and early thirties. It essentially marked my interest in open writing itself as a creative form and really it was a vehicle for my irrepressible curiosity about the world we live in. That curiosity essentially is what has led me through my life, but to write about it... a wide variety of know, I’ve written several books on different kinds of poetry not as an academic, because I’m not an academic in that sense, but as someone who has always been deeply interested in the great questions of life, like what are we here for and what are we doing here.

Among the books Roger Housden has written are the six volumes of his best-selling Ten Poems series, including Ten Poems to Change your Life and Ten Poems to Last a Lifetime as well as three travel books including Sacred Journeys in a Modern World, Travels Through Sacred India, and the account of his travels and arrest and detention in Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran entitled Saved By Beauty: Adventures of a Romantic in Iran. His poetry books have been sufficiently relevant and have resonated with enough people to achieve the “best-seller” label, which is very unusual for books with “poetry” in their title.

So, if you want to learn more about England as “the land of imagination” and how the English landscape influenced English Literature, and vice versa, sign up for Roger Housden’s fall class, “Discovering England through its Poets, Writers, and Landscapes.”