Friday, November 21, 2008

A "Wild" Gawain

I mentioned a while back that I was interested in translating Gawain, since it's one of my favourite pre-Modern English texts, but that since everyone is doing it these days, there seemed little point in jumping on an overcrowded bandwagon.

Well, I've suddenly found an "in" to the project, and written ten poems towards it so far, mostly over the past week or so. Sequences always flow well for me once I'm into the thick of them, and although other work has now interrupted my writing, I have good hopes of getting back to this one soon without losing interest.

What I've done is not started a translation, per se, but written some short sequential responses to Gawain. Though perhaps a better description would be to call it a "wild" or parallel version.

My "wild" version mixes past and present - one of my favourite gimmicks at the moment - so I have a contemporary Gawain story and a medieval Gawain story, interwoven in a sequence of new poems. These poems both follow the thread of the original narrative and depart from it by showing scenes that don't appear there but are mentioned - off-stage scenes, as it were - or that are entirely new.

Sometimes I throw in phrases from the medieval text, or hint at them in passing, but generally, this is all original work. As usual, no guarantees that the sequence will work out and be published in the future. But it's started me writing again with energy after a dry period, and I'm happy enough with that.


Dan said...

Hmm... Sounds most promising. You'll have Simon Armitage running for cover!

Jane Holland said...

I can't imagine Simon running for cover. For Britain, perhaps. Anyway, I loathe following in other people's footsteps. Hence my new twist on the tale.

I had that Simon Armitage in the back of my car once. Actually, I think he may have been in the front. But you know what I mean.

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