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Narrative Poetry, Guest Post by Deacon Barry

BeowulfBack a while ago, Deacon Barry won his second poetry contest here at UDoJ, and for his troubles he gets the opportunity to present a guest post, without edit, and on any subject he chooses.

I just received it via Email, so straight from my inbox, here it is.

I swear JanieBelle’s got some kind of arcane access to my hard drive. I’ve been sitting with this post on it for a week or so now, trying to work out how to tie it all up, and she posts the very thing I’m talking about – a narrative poem!

Narrative verse is one of the oldest of mankind’s art forms. It enabled our ancestors to transmit their culture orally before writing was invented. Rhythm and rhyme were part of the negative feedback mechanism to keep the information intact against the drift of unreliable memories, until its eventual capture and recording on silicon and paper. Because of this, we still have the epics of Gilgamesh, the Rig Veda, the Mahabarata, and the Iliad.

Since then, narrative poems have been an integral part of our culture; and part of our educational system – the process of memorising then reciting a poem is such a useful learning tool. At one point in my youth, I could’ve given you Tam o’ Shanter, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, and The Dong with a Luminous Nose.

But these were written in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. What I want to know is, where are the epic narrative poems of the twenty-first century? The ones our descendents will be learning in their version of school.

If you know one off by heart, and have the chutzpah to stand up and recite it at a gathering, it’s a great social enabler. You get people coming up to you saying, “I wish I could do that.” But apart from January 25th – Burns’ Nicht – when Tam o’ Shanter can be declaimed in its entirety, there’s not that much opportunity to perform epic verse. O for times of old, when:-

… poets were kings
And colleges paid for their talks.
Later came chat shows
And adverts and things
The Key to Success is Hard Work
(Mike Dillon – The Key to Success)

It’s time for poetry to be reinstated as a high status, mega popular art form, and for that we need new quotable epics for the twenty-first century. It’s time to get writing.

Filed under: Blogs In Our MonkeySphere, Friends, Guest Post, Literature, Poetry, Poetry Contests

6 Responses

  1. Deacon Barry says:

    I love the accompanying graphic. Looks like Beowulf.

  2. Dave says:

    Last March marked the ten-year-mark that I’ve been working on my epic poem, “Returning Waves.” It’s in blank verse [slighlty relaxed, I guess] and is currently about 10,000 lines.

    I’m highly aware of its flaws but I’m still proud of it, in my way.

    I know of at least one other modern-yet-traditonal epic, completed last year. The guy’s a friend of mine, lives in Philadelphia [I’m in Providence], and he worked on his for 13 years.

    Just thought I’d keep you in the loop.

  3. JanieBelle says:

    Geez, no lie! After ten years, the writing of the epic is epic.

  4. schildan says:

    My hat off to you. We need more epics. I think it would be really cool to write one in structured verse with Rhyme. Yes, I said Rhyme. It would have to be very well crafted though so the rhyming doesn’t get juvenile.

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