Greetings all and welcome to our 2022 series, Artisans and Crafters of Bryn Gwlad (and friends). Monthly we interview populace about what they create, and why they create it or do it ! Now on to the The interview
This month we are chatting with Magister René Damours
He is an amazing and very talented artisan in our lands and I am lucky he is on my friends list so I can readily see what he posts about his creations and writings, and I am always amazed. I hope you enjoy his art, as much as I do !
- HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE SCA ? I have been in the SCA since 2003, but was introduced to the SCA, playing occasionally, in the early 1990s, while in high school.
- WHAT IS THE ART FORM YOU WANT TO SHARE WITH US TODAY? A 16th century English sonnet written while thinking of a scary, near-death, experience I had several years ago. That experience really made me contemplate my life, what I’ve done, and how easy we can lose it. It is written from the perspective of me, as a cis-male, who was otherwise healthy could find themselves in an ICU. Also, how, seemingly out of nowhere, we look into the mirror and see the changes that time has made on us.
- DID YOU START DOING THIS BEFORE YOU CAME TO THE SCA? Not really, no. I’ve always enjoyed poetry and have written my share of angsty, teenaged, break up poetry, but didn’t really start practicing and working at writing sonnets until I started in the SCA. After meeting some exceptional sonneteers in the SCA, learning from them, and finding my passion for them, I began writing them on my own.
- IF YOU DID THIS PREVIOUS TO THE SCA – DID THIS HELP TO DRAW YOU TO THE SCA ? My draw to the SCA was less about sonnets, and was really about finding a community who enjoyed studying, learning, and doing all of the things I enjoy: history, swordplay, art, and poetry. I was heavily involved in a community theatre in my hometown, and have been able to perform period plays in the SCA, as well.
- TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT WHAT THIS ENTAILS, AND THE CREATION ASPECT OF IT. Creating this particular sonnet was one of the few that came together rather quickly. My writing process, especially for sonnets, can be and is often a long labor of love. The sonnet I shared here came out all in one sitting rather than my usual going back to it for several consecutive days, adding and revising and reworking. As I create, though, I keep every versions of every sonnet I write, so I can document the process and see its evolution. This is a great way to document your process, if you’re planning to enter something you write into an SCA competition. Much like the progress and process of a garment being made can be photographed, as it’s being created, you can show different versions of your work to show the process and how the final version came to be.
- HOW WOULD SOMEONE GO ABOUT BEGINNING RESEARCH ON THIS ? There are lots of websites where you can begin learning about the basics of sonnets–form, structure, meter, rhythm, etc. Googling ‘sonnets’ or just ’16th poetic forms’ will yield a healthy amount of information to begin to read through. I would also start by reading sonnets for inspiration. You can find them easily online, especially if you’re wanting to write English, aka Shakespearean, sonnets, but you can also find the sonnets of Petrarch, Wyatt, Howard, and Spencer too. I always started by reading sonnets written by William Shakespeare to get my brain working in that word space. It helped me think in that language, and I just really enjoy reading them. I have written a research paper, and have all of my documentation on my website, which can be accessed here: https://renedamourspoetry.wordpress.com/ for anyone who’d like to read through my ‘Archive of Poetry’ or ‘Documentation for Poetic Forms.
- HOW CAN THIS BE SHOWCASED IN THE SCA WHILE ATTENDING EVENTS AND THINGS? All poetry can be showcased in a few different ways. The first way would be in an SCA Arts and Sciences competition, which would allow for one to display the work and related documentation for the public to enjoy and for judges to judge. Poetry can also be performed at various levels, ranging from a low-key bardic circle around a fire to an official SCA bardic competition. I have also showcased sonnets by recording videos and posting them to my social media, and you could even create a Youtube page to showcase the works you’ve written. If able and willing, there may be an opportunity to recite your poetry for the Crown during court or feast. I had the honor of reciting a sonnet I’d written for Her then Majesty Deanna, and was able to recite it during feast. She gifted me with a sonnet in return, which was so cool!!!
- IF SOMEONE WANTED TO LEARN, AS A BEGINNER WHAT IS YOUR BEST ADVICE ON STARTING POINT? Reading sonnets is a great way to start. It gives you some context on theme, form, and how sonnets are constructed. Also, reaching out to someone who writes sonnets is great. While it may seem like a long road to reach the skill level of the person you’re speaking to, or skill level where you want to be, remember that everyone one of us were beginners too. I started fumbling through sonnets, getting tons of feedback from people who were willing to read them and critique them, and took that feedback to get better and better. I can promise that there are so many people in the SCA who are willing and ready to help, encourage, and provide feedback and support for you. I know it’s not always easy to reach out to someone, but know that, if nothing else, I am here to help. I want to help. I want to encourage anyone interested in sonnets or other forms of period poetic forms to write, learn, and share their passion.
- TELL US A BIT ABOUT THE JOY AND COMMUNITY YOU GET FROM THIS AND MAYBE SHARE SOME THINGS YOU’VE DONE . I feel so fortunate to know some incredibly talented poets, ranging from skaldic poetry to sonnets to haiku to sestinas…you name it. It feels me with joy to know them and learn from them. If you are interested in this and wonder if there are others out there, please know: THERE ARE!!! Come learn and share with us. I’ve spent the majority of my time, related to period poetry, writing and displaying in SCA Arts and Sciences competitions, which has provided a mechanism to display the poetry I’ve written. I have also written and entered research papers on poetic forms. Throughout this entire journey, I’ve had the good fortune to work with and learn from some exceptionally talented and giving people.
The sonnet referenced in number 2:
Into the glass a man shall one day gaze,
To find an ancient face to him unknown.
So brazenly each crevice forms a craze,
Beneath the grizzled beard that he has grown.
What can a mortal man assay to do?
Unto the heads of Chronus plead withal;
Bemoan the days ahead he shan’t accrue;
Accept that he to Pluto is a thrall?
If he upon his past should ponder then,
Of how his puerile days were filled with mirth,
Account for boyish vanity therein,
And pray that he is apt to leave this Earth.
For as the sun must to the moon give way,
So shall we all our final penance pay.
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov’d,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.
William Shakespeare, Sonnet CXVI
Well I am truly speechless !
Thank you so much for your time and willingness to share a little bit of you with us ! Your writing and verse are sublime and I am enthralled !
If you are inspired by his words please reach out to him, He is an amazing human in both heart and soul and will gladly share his experience with you !
Until next month
Sigrun Sveinungsdottir iBiarka. Halberd MoAS