New C.S. Lewis Alliterative Poem Discovered

Thanks to Andoni Cossio scouring the University of Leeds's Tolkien-Gordon collection, we have now discovered a new alliterative poem by C. S. Lewis: "Mód Þrýþe Ne Wæg"! This is the problem with research: I just published a whole anthology containing  all of Lewis's known alliterative poems, and now another one has been found! Grump grump. It's a pretty interesting poem, though ... Andoni actually showed it to me prior to publication, and we talked about its dating. The title refers to Beowulf , in particular the evil queen Modthryth ( although this isn't a proper name in Old English; Lewis sees the word instead as "Mood of Thyrth"). Despite the title, this 12-line text was written as a thank-you note to Eric and Ida Gordon, two philologists at Leeds, after having stayed at their home for a few days. According to Andoni, a poem by Tolkien dated June 26, 1935 references Lewis's earlier stay, which therefore puts "Mód Þrýþe Ne Wæg" to earl

NEW POETS OF RUM-RAM-RUF: Zach Weinersmith & Boulet

I n the opening paragraph of my metrical appendix to Speculative Poetry and the Modern Alliterative Revival , I raised a conundrum: how do revivalists today officially arrive at an alliterative meter? The question’s a good one. In every case known to me, at least in English, revivalists never “grow up” with alliterative poetics. They don’t – they cannot – know the meter on an intuitive cultural knowledge, not as medieval skalds or scopas did. In other words, the meter has been moribund for centuries, and if young poets today – those crazy kids – experiment with alliteration at all, it is only of the ornamental variety. That’s what tongue twisters teach you: the rum-ram-ruf of sounds jingle-jangling together. Accordingly, if revivalists know what they are doing at all, they deploy a poetic form learned only as an adult. Someday, though, I hope to eat those words – or at least chew them slowly. The parties responsible are author Zach Weinersmith and the artist Boulet, the creators of

NEW POETS OF RUM RAM RUF: Paul Douglas Deane

When talking about original fan works of the Modern Revival, no discussion is complete without Paul Douglas Deane. If you’ve heard of him before, it’s no doubt thanks to his website founded in 1999, Forgotten Ground Regained – the largest and best collection of alliterative verse on the interwebz. Originally, Deane envisioned his site as a combination blog, fanzine, and content index, running things on that model for about a decade before life (as they say) intervened. But then Speculative Poetry and the Modern Alliterative Revival appeared, and this event motivated Deane to give his website a major overhaul. Now the layout is sleeker and snazzier than ever before, and Deane’s talent for finding new alliterative poets has been on full display. In the last few months alone, he’s discovered several new revivalists, and a few of them – Lancelot Schaubert, Amit Majmudar, Susan Edwards – have already been discussed in this series. The thing is, Forgotten Ground Regained – as important a

Genre Fantasy Bestsellers through 1990

I've been studying Keith Justice's Bestseller Index , which compiles information from two separate bestseller lists -- New York Times Book Review and Publishers Weekly -- up through 1990, and the results are ridiculously fascinating. For instance, you wanna take a stab at which SFF author has the most individual books appear on a bestseller list? No, it ain't Heinlein, Clark, Herbert, or Asimov. It's not even Terry Brooks or David Eddings. No, the answer is Piers Anthony . And even if you somehow pulled that name out of thin air, I guarantee you'll never guess how truly dominate Anthony was. Up through 1990, Anthony had more than double than number of distinct bestsellers than the next most frequent bestseller, Anne McCaffrey. Whereas Anthony had an astounding  22 different books appear on a bestseller list, McCaffrey had "only" 9.** Now, caveats. These numbers need to be taken with one (or two) grains of salt. For instance, although Anthony had 22 two dis

NEW POETS OF RUM-RAM-RUF: Susan Edwards (“Tuilinde”)

Last week, when comparing medieval retellings of the Trojan War to contemporary fan fiction, my reason involved more than there simply being folks like M. Wendy Hennequin around, people for whom medievalism and creative fan activity are deeply entwined. My other reason is that the Middle Ages can seem so distant to my students. Popular culture helps them grasp some aspects of medieval life and culture, albeit often in distorted form, for instance feudalism and chivalry, but otherwise? The instinctive concern for rank, the holy awe of kingship, the ubiquity of religion in daily life … all these things tend to be beyond the everyday experience of college students in the 21 st century. As a teacher, you have to find a bridge. Calling stories about the Trojan War or King Arthur “fanfic” therefore breaks down a historical barrier. Students know what fan fiction is. They understand the conventions. So while it’s easy to be intimidated by a syllabus that contains Dante’s Inferno with the gho

NEW POETS OF RUM RAM RUF: M. Wendy Hennequin

  The New Poets of Rum-Ram-Ruf:  M. Wendy Hennequin and Fan Fiction In my introduction to Speculative Poetry and the Modern Alliterative Revival , my first section is called “The Story of the Modern Revival.” Every story needs a hero, though, and our story’s unsung hero is undeniably contemporary fandom. Many years ago, I once read an essay by Harlan Ellison praising SF for having so many big-name authors emerge from the ranks of SF fandom. He considered this situation distinct from mainstream, non-genre literature, and while I won’t agree with Ellison completely – as one of my students once told me, she has an older brother named Geoffrey because of how much their mother loves The Canterbury Tales – but still, genre fandom seems special. Such fandom has been a guiding light for the Modern Revival, too. We’ve already touched upon several revivalists with impeccable fan roots: Fletcher Pratt, Poul Anderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Paul Edwin Zimmer. Nonetheless, most people tend to think