‘Beowulf’ Is Back! – The Atlantic

Beowulf, of precarious provenance—the single surviving, crumbling manuscript bears the scorch marks of an 18th-century library fire—has traveled across a thousand years to lodge in our imagination like some kind of radioactive space nugget. A story from a pre-Christian era written down by an anonymous Christian, in alliterative Old English verse, it has an otherness, a real frosty interstellar otherness, but also a mysterious resonance. It’s holding something for us, this poem, the value of which is inseparable from its long and lonely transmission. And so we keep going back to it, we wonderingly retell it, testing it on our tongues like the syllables of a dream. The past 20 years alone have given rise to two feature films, a TV series, and no fewer than four graphic novels based on the poem, including one released this January.

Source: ‘Beowulf’ Is Back! – The Atlantic

AHFest2016 | CLAMS students

screen shot of caroline bergvall

I put together a series of blog posts for the CLAMS student blog, all about the various ‘new medieval’ work that has inspired our ‘Playing with medieval visions, sounds, sensations’ workshops. It was a lot of fun writing these posts, some of which I’ve wanted to do for a while, so it was good to have a purpose and a deadline to write for!

My favourite post to write, of course, was a short exploration of Caroline Bergvall’s Drift, a poem of epic proportions which begins with a rewriting/ reimagining/ retelling of the Old English Seafarer poem.

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Take just the first line of the Old English Seafarer for example:

Mæg ic be me sylfum soðgied wrecan…

[Keeping the word order: ‘May I of my self true stories tell’; or literally: ‘I may tell a true story about myself’]

And now Caroline Bergvall’s words:

‘Let me speak my true journeys, own true songs Maeg ic, I can make my sorry tale right soggy truth sothgied sodsgate some serious wrecan my ship sailing rekkies tell Hu ic how ache wracked from travel…’

From one line of Old English Bergvall has spun out five lines. Each Old English word is teased and tested and stretched. ‘Soðgied’, in truth pronounced ‘soth-yed’, is here turned into ‘sodsgate’: a transformation that always reminds me of when I was first learning Old English, I would always accidentally read ‘ð’ as ‘d’. Also, to note, I’ve used the book version of the text to get the spellings for this section, but hearing the poem aloud the words more obviously reveal their playfulness, for example ‘some serious wrecan my ship’ could be ‘some serious wreck-an my ship’.

Read more: AHFest2016 | CLAMS students

Hearts, minds, and sea birds | via Medieval Comics

Folio 81v of the Exeter Book [The Dean and Chapter of Exeter Cathedral]
I wrote a little blog about the Seafarer poem and the mysterious ‘anfloga’, which I chose as a snapshot to give the Medieval Comics project. I can’t wait to see what artist Karrie Fransman does with the poem!

“The Seafarer describes the irresistible call to sea and his experiences on the ocean, but this is a poem of the mind..”

Source: Hearts, minds, and sea birds | Medieval Comics