Grendel’s Mother: The Saga of the Wyrd-Wife (Top Hat Books, 2015) has been selected as a 2016 Wishing Shelf Book Award finalist in the category of Adult Fiction. This book has been a blessing! Thank you, Beowulf author[s], whoever you were!
Get your popcorn!
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” (H.P. Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror in Literature). The secret to any, successful scary monster story is to keep your monsters clouded in mystery; a secret that was known to the Beowulf poet, but sadly lost on modern movie makers.
Grendel goes to Heorot
Grendel is one of the three monsters that feature in the Old English poem Beowulf. We are introduced to Grendel as an “ellengæst” [bold spirit] (l. 86a) who has spent the last twelve years harassing the hall of the Danish king Hrothgar, devouring anyone who spent the night there. A Geatish hero, Beowulf, arrives to save the day. After a long battle, Beowulf rips off Grendel’s arm and the monster, mortally wounded, returns to his home in the swamp and dies.
A troll, a…
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Germanophiles! Malvern Books, who hosted the book launch of Grendel’s Mother: The Saga of the Wyrd-Wife, contacted me out of the blue to help launch another writer’s new memoir. I’m delighted to join Rebecca Schuman when she reads from Schadenfreude, A Love Story about the trials of her time in Germany. I lived in Germany in the 1980s and am starting work on a memoir about my time teaching in East Germany. On the 14th I will read from a few of my published works about legendary and historical German women–and maybe say a word or two about the Stasi file that purports to have all the information about me!
What can Old English words for fingers, anger, old age and pigs tell us about Anglo-Saxon culture?
Every year I love participating in the Young Writers’ Workshop at Travis Heights Elementary School. 20 professional writers teach various workshops to 3rd-5th graders. I teach a class called “Take a step back in time..But beware! Watch where you step! Ogres, dragons, and evil knights await!”
This year, as usual, I shared the runic alphabet and some kids took delight in writing their stories in runes. Amazing.
I also give them a Story Element sheet with categories like Hero or Heroine (knight, princess, peasant); Place (castle, deep forest, deserted city); Person with Special Powers (could be good or evil: druid, magician, wise healer); Monster or Monstrous Creature (werewolf, green knight, dragon); and Faithful Animal Companion (deer, board, swan).
This year was special because one kid chose as his place Trump Tower, and as his monster Donald Trump.
In his story, the Illuminati are tasked with dealing with the monster Trump who keeps wanting to build a wall. I have to say the story was pretty clever! But I was also a little sad. In a school with a majority of Hispanic kids, Trump’s pronouncements are clearly trickling down into family discussions at home and worrying our beloved neighbors in our city.
These kids are so creative and reflective–it has been an honor and pleasure working with them!
It’s wonderful to see how folks take Anglo-Saxon politics and apply it to the world today. No matter your political strip, I hope we can all agree that a historical long view–and a sense of humor–are good things! Be sure to check out more tweets from Donaeld The Unready. My favorite? Drain the Fens.
The Dutch Anglo-Saxonist strikes again! This time with #NotMyConqueror. Do read!