April was a very busy month for me, but I’m coming back with a lot of inspiration to keep going and pushing my art to a new level. I’m hoping to write some new period/peri-oid stuff with some of the research I’ve done!
One of the things I’ve found to be true is that poetry research is inexorably tied into cultural research in Ireland. I’m learning a lot about the role of the poet in different centuries and it’s impacting the way I want to write as well. In particular, I’ve been reading some excellent translations from the 8-12th centuries of monastic poetry from Barbara Hughes Fowler. Her book Medieval Irish Lyrics is a petite treasure trove of information! Her author’s note at the beginning has illuminated more books that I have a sudden need for as well as providing insight into her translation choices and methods. It’s great.
One of the things I’ve learned from this that carries over from previous sources is that there’s a huge connection to the natural world as a constant theme in all of the poems. The majority of them stem from monasteries as marginalia (which is great in and of itself), so it’s an insight into a bored monk’s thought process as he’s painstakingly copying text. Naturally it follows that a lot of the themes found in these focus on religion and religious stories, but a lot of them contain valuable observations about the world in which they live. A few of my favorites make connections between their exile in the wilderness and their perceived closeness to God (perhaps hoping that the Irish countryside will provide hermetical enlightenment). They’re quite a lot of fun to read.
Although Fowler notes that these poems tend to be more of an anglicized dialect, the specific wording used in the poems is still very important. It’s already informed quite a bit of my writing to know that medieval Irishmen were paying close attention to the specific shade of yellow of a blossoming tree in spring while contemplating original sin. Currently, I’m planning to use this depth of observation in some new works I’m writing – I’ll post about them as they get closer to finish.
Thanks for sticking with me! I’ll hope to see some of you at some upcoming events. You can find me helping out with the mini-Bardic Madness at Highland River Melees in June as well as Ruby Joust at the end of this month. Until then, happy writing and researching y’all!