I was tagged by Arielle Guy, inspiration extraordinaire…
What is the working title of the book?
“Better than the original…” –Publius Vergilius Maro
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I was studying Latin and working on various texts — I have always been fascinated with ancient Rome and my first book, Ovid in Exile, dealt with the other great Roman poet — and it struck me that The Aeneid is a really great and somewhat misunderstood poem. It is perceived to be imperial propaganda, whereas Ovid is a sort of revolutionary troublemaker. To some extent, that’s true, but there are subversive and deeply ironic threads that are fascinating to unwind. The great artist Carolyn Kaser is also providing images that really bring the project to life. In that sense, I consider it a collaboration, which makes working on it even more exciting.
What genre does your book fall under?
Poetry / translation.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Having just seen Touch of Evil, I would say Charlton Heston could play Aeneas, Janet Leigh Dido, Marlene Dietrich Venus, and Orson Welles would have to be Virgil.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Epic poetry is weirder and wilder than you think.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I’m still working on it; have been for over a year, expect it to take another six months to a year.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Poetry has been difficult for me over the past few years of studying for my PhD, frankly… Translation is a way to keep working on something that has a more or less definite roadmap, and the moments when it goes off the map inspire me to keep going. As I continue to work on it, I’m also inspired by Thomas Meyer‘s experimental Beowulf, which takes an often-translated text in exciting new directions.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It’s got monsters, gods, a tragic love story… what more do you want?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m trying to farm out sections of it as chapbooks now, and a publisher is interested in the project as a whole, but I’ll have to wait and see when it’s finished.