NEW POETS OF RUM RAM RUF: Purists vs. Impressionists

One oddity about the Modern Revival is that, historically, critics don’t normally categorize literary movements according to poetic form alone. For instance, we don’t talk about the “Rhyming Octosyllabic Revolution” of Anglo-Norman England, or the “Blank Verse-ism” of the Elizabethan stage. This oddity has been one reason (out of several) some medievalists have challenged the notion of an “alliterative revival” in the mid-14 th century at all. After all, no medieval source ever mentions such a movement. The whole idea is a hypothesis put forth by modern scholars. Although my Brit Lit I survey course in college confidently taught the mid-14 th century revival as accepted fact, quite a few recent scholars have argued that just because various late medieval poems share a certain set of metrical similarities, they needn’t constitute an actual community of poets with similar attitudes or aims. The whole notion of metrical revivalism in the later Middle Ages is, therefore, a shot in the da

Review Essay on JK Rowling's Legacy

It's rare to have my mind blown by a review essay ..... but Joseph Rex Young's review of two edited collections about HARRY POTTER, published last year in Mythlore , is not only the single best thing I've yet seen written on J.K. Rowling's legacy, but it's also simply one of the best *written* (and most literary) reviews I've ever had the pleasure to read.   Young's review is open access and can be found here . If interested in Rowling studies, check it out.

Thoughts upon Reading Tolkien's New & Expanded LETTERS

So, I'm reading through the newly expanded version of Tolkien's Letters. One thing I hadn't properly realized is that these letters were part of Carpenter's original manuscript back in 1981, but Carpenter had to cut them due to cost. Turns out that Carpenter had a pretty keen eye on what could bear cutting -- most of this new stuff isn't terribly interesting, but I discovered a few nuggets. VINDICATED!! (Me, sorta) Naturally, whenever you read new primary material, your first instinct is to check to see if anything contradicts something you've said in print ... especially biographically. Well, I've made three big "biographical" claims, and here's my sigh of relief: Concerning my claim that, in 1954, Tolkien and colleagues contrived to create CS Lewis's academic chair at Cambridge in exchange for them nominating EM Forster for the Nobel Prize. Nothing in  Letters  supports or contradicts this. In my recent article for  Notes & Queries ,

An Alliterative Response to Lancelot Schaubert's "Dear Tolkien Estate"

I'm taking a bye week for the "New Poets of Rum Ram Ruf" series, so thought I'd post about something cool. In my fourth entry of the series, I discussed a poem by Lancelot Schaubert called "Dear Tolkien Estate." Well, apparently that inspired the curator for the Tales After Tolkien Society blog, Geoffrey Elliot, to pen a response, " In Response to Lancelot Schaubert ."  It's another nice example of its kind -- I always love discussions of literary history in such things (Elliot's first several lines), and there's a nifty reference to Tolkien's Unfinished Tales in there as well. 


BOOM! Latest entry just dropped on the Tales After Tolkien Society blog . 


Although technically this book is a sequel to Bolivar’s The Lay of Old Hex , I read this having only encountered A Wheel of Ravens before. From the two books, though, you can clearly tell that Bolivar has a unique style. Unlike Wheel , which is written in the Old English alliterative meter, this book primarily appears in ballad form. This creates a smooth reading experience with strong intimations of 18 th - and 19 th -century British folklore. Like Wheel, though, the poems in Ballad for the Witching Hour share several interconnected stories and characters that Bolivar likes to use in common. Most of this collection’s poems are “Jack” tales (although not all these “Jacks” appear to be the same Jack). There’s also a dream-world, lots of cool mythological references, shared characters such as Scarlet Balladress, and so on. Overall, I’d recommend reading Ballad for the Witching Hour in one sitting, like I did, because then you can better see how Bolivar’s poems all play off one anot

NEW POETS OF RUM RAM RUF: "Dear Tolkien Estate" by Schaubert

Of all the new alliterative poems I’ve recently seen, Lancelot Schaubert’s “ Dear Tolkien Estate ” is one of the more delightful. To give this one some context, if you’re a regular reader of Tales After Tolkien , you might have already heard of a little-known fantasy author by the name of J.R.R. Tolkien. Well, back in May 2013, the executor of Tolkien’s estate (his son Christopher) posthumously published one of his father’s longest original works in strict Old English meter, The Fall of Arthur . If you’ve not read it before, it’s a remarkable achievement, but alas … as holds true for most of Tolkien’s major projects, he never completed it. Only four cantos plus portions of a fifth are finished. Nevertheless, in 1934, he shared a draft of The Fall of Arthur with his trusted friend and colleague, the medievalist R. W. Chambers (1874-1942), who praised the poem highly. Yet this encouragement was apparently insufficient to entice Tolkien towards completion, and despite hinting a few deca