Tuesday, April 10, 2018

‘Laȝamon remembers Ireland’: the scholarship poem revisited.


‘Laȝamon remembers Ireland’ is a small part of a much bigger writing project. 

You can read the poem ‘Laȝamon remembers Ireland’ here: http://www.meniscus.org.au/Vol6Iss1.pdf on pages 72-73)

I’ve been reading and then reading and writing about the Brut since about 1981, when a disgruntled undergraduate, me, was told he couldn’t use Malory for his Honours thesis but should ‘do something with Laȝamon’.

The questions that interest me now are ones that a conventional academic approach, confined by the discipline of whatever methodology, cannot answer. This is not to denigrate scholarship. Without scholarship, mine and others, what I’m trying to do would come untethered and drift off into pseudo-historical fantasy-writing.

If writing a poem can offer a unique way of thinking through and in language, then writing poems to rethink stories can lead beyond the various walls that hedge scholarship to suggest ways of thinking about the Brut, its author and their time. A question as simple as, ‘Why does Locrin put Aestrild in an ‘earth house’ with ‘ivory doors’? lead to the Bronze age tin trade. Whatever the poem suggests can then be tested against the evidence. It’s a fascinating process because it leads into areas logic and reason might not consider.   It’s Pound’s ‘scholarship poem’, or Graves’ ‘poetic method’ taken seriously. 

I set out to retell four stories from theBrut. But as the project developed, it became a many-sided conversation with a strange variety of textual participants: the history of Dark Age Naval power, tin trade in the Bronze age, Homer, Virgil, Herodotus, the archaeology of post Roman Britain, the history of early Medieval Wales and England, the English Parish clergy in the 12th century, the writings of Gerald of Wales…and while trying to translate the prologue, I found I’d started writing about Laȝamon himself. 

You can read what that process lead to here:
http://www.liamguilar.com/blog/2018/4/10/the-laamon-project-using-poems-to-think-or-revisiting-pounds-scholarship-poem

It's too long for a blog post.

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