An Epic Poetry Workshop, presented by Frederick Glaysher, at the Austin International Poetry Festival, AIPF, September 29, 2012.
“Frederick Glaysher presents a workshop designed to revive the genre of epic poetry. He researched this genre and developed two worksheets with collections of quotations and reflections on epic poetry which helped him develop his own thinking and practice. From the perspective of having now finished the 8th draft of his own epic poem, he finds much more in them and looks forward to talking with people about the genre. Having taught college courses in the past in non-Western literature, the great Asian epics are very important to him, too, and he will explore some aspects of Chinese and Indian epic as well. The workshop combines reading, discussion, thought-provoking questions, and writing practice.” — From the 20th Anniversary Celebration Program for AIPF.
At my writing desk, June 21, 2012, working on Book III for the summer serialization.
I believe I have written the first epic poem in English in 345 years, since Milton’s publishing Paradise Lost in 1667. I cordially invite the reader to consider that there is no other subsequent poem in the English language that succeeds in meriting the title of epic, nor comparison with Milton, Dante, Virgil, and Homer. All of the contenders are merely long poems, series and sequences, mock epics, or local epics, if you will, embracing a regional civilization, not the entire globe, not a universal, global epic, with a world-embracing vision. The same is true of all of the traditional epics of other cultures, as with Asia, for instance.
Throughout my adult life, my life-long goal has been to write a universal, global epic, commensurate with our Global Age, to speak to all nations, the many millions. I invite readers to consider and judge whether I have achieved what I began to conceive of, and study for, as early as 1982.
On June 6th I finished the 7th Draft of The Parliament of Poets, an epic poem. Tolstoy set the standard for me with his seven drafts of War and Peace. Reading about that years ago, I have never been able to forget it. He, with his wife’s help (much contention around that fact in later years), wrote out the entire manuscript, over 1,000 pages in most editions, by hand, seven times! Awesome just to think of the physical energy expended, let alone the mental, especially after having written by hand my manuscript of a mere 280 pages, five times, puny by comparison! Argh, perhaps in other ways, self-doubt barking, though I dare to think otherwise, while knowing the ultimate judgment resides with readers… as it should.
At least, I tell myself, I have, in my own terms, achieved what I set out to do, as long ago as the early 1980s: Write an epic poem, a serious one, though laden with delight, that attempts to stand with Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Milton, the other great epic poets, East and West, one that confronts, attempts to confront, the fullness of modern life, in all its global complexity, humanity’s many strands, and weave a new, universal vision of epic song. It’s been a long and lonely, arduous journey. Whatever comes of it, whatever readers think, like or detest it, ignore or spurn it, for the first time in over thirty years, it’s not a weight on my consciousness, not one I’ve yet to deliver, but done, setting on my desk.
Read my other reflections on my epic poem in the Epic Category to the right >
ANN ARBOR—On September 22, 29, and October 6, the theatre company, Apollo’s Troupe, will stage the theater adaptation of the poem, The Parliament of Poets, written by Michigan poet Frederick Glaysher and published in 2012 by Earthrise Press. Continue reading →