Introducing THE ROWAN CANTICLES: Odds Bodkin has Created a New Epic

Dear storytelling aficionado,

If you’ve enjoyed my spoken-word storytellings over the years, thank you. Here’s something quite different: an immense and challenging literary work. Rhymes. Archiac words. Convoluted metaphors. In other words, literary fun that runs for 13,000 rhyming lines.

It’s THE ROWAN CANTICLES: A Tale Told in the Ancient Manner.

And you can listen to it as well. Each week I’ll be posting a new Canto (think chapter) on Substack, both in text and audio. I’ll be reading the epic myself using numerous character voices and adding background music. The Cantos run from 3 to 10 minutes long.

If you’re ready to dive in and want to start from the beginning, start with Canto I.

And to help you digest any rare or archaic words I’ve used in the text,  you’ll also find a glossary that tracks the story, right on each Canto page.

Lastly, for anyone who enjoys puzzles, I’ve woven in no few word games. As those Cantos appear, I’ll issue those challenges.

Thanks for considering visiting me once a week! Your comments are always welcome.

May the Muse be with you,

 

ODDS BODKIN

Pox On You All! You Ain’t Gettin’ This Ship!

A POX ON YOU ALL! YOU AIN’T GETTIN’ THIS SHIP!

After Phineas Krull murders the Grand Builderguilder and he and his pirate crew steal The Waistgold, they think they’re free of the denizens of Port Sqwunk. But that’s not the case. Their pursuers want one thing: The Waistgold and her gem-studded wood.

Me spyglass reveals a damn sixty-oared frigate,
Five times our size easy and loaded with Sqwunks.
With at least ten sails up and her cannons, 12-pounders,

Bebristlin’ her rails, she looks ready fer blood.
Below in ‘er galleys, big Roachers be rowin’,
Singin’ songs ‘o the spirit to pass off their pain,
Hungry eyes on each other to see who’ll die first.
Never thought they’d be comin’, but then I sees why.
‘Tis a damn Builderguilder, not ‘im who be dead,
But another––he the brother?–– with a glass to ‘is eye.

Right, the dead one’s brother or a partner in crime
All hot full ‘o vengeance and wanting ‘er back.
Seein’ me seein’ ‘im as we stares ‘cross the space,
I says, “Pox on you all! You ain’t gettin’ this ship!”

Here’s a quick video introduction to this new performance work by Odds Bodkin:

Be in the audience at Grendel’s Den on Harvard Square this coming Sunday the 27th for the live show!

VOYAGE OF THE WAISTGOLD

A Premier Performance

Sunday Feb. 27, 2022 at 5 pm EST

LIVE AT GRENDEL’S DEN on Harvard Square

Tickets: $35

For Father’s Day: Odds Bodkin’s $174.95 MASTER DRIVE on sale for $99!

For Father’s Day: Odds Bodkin’s $174.95 MASTER DRIVE on sale for $99!

For you dads out there, a one-day-only sale of Odds Bodkin’s complete works.

25 hours of storytelling for all ages. Original music. Plus Odds’ 555-page epic work of high fantasy in verse, The Water Mage’s Daughter.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

THE MASTER DRIVE: A World of Fantasy and Legends for the Mind’s Eye

 

THE MASTER DRIVE: A World of Fantasy and Legends for the Mind’s Eye

The Collected Works of Odds Bodkin on a flash drive. 25 hours of audio storytelling and music, plus a 555-page epic poem for adult readers, with glossary.

A $269.95 value for $175.95.

A Glossary of Unfamiliar and Archaic Words To Smooth The Reader’s Way…

A Glossary of Unfamiliar and Archaic Words To Smooth The Reader’s Way…

The Water Mage’s Daughter is filled with archaic and rare words. Scroll down to learn about the ones that begin with the letter A, from the new WMD Glossary.

 

A
abbatoir: a slaughterhouse
abscond: to steal and run away with something
absinthe: a wormwood liqueur
accolades: rewards or praises for merit
accurst: cursed
adage: a wise proverb or expression
admixt: mixed
adz: a sharp tool for hand-shaping logs into beams
affiche: to attach or affix
affray: a public fight
agog: excited or anxious
alchemy: transforming matter to gold
aliquot: the sum of
allay: to put to rest
ambit: the bounds of something
amicus: a friend in court
amourette: a female lover
anachronistic: conspicuously old fashioned or from another time
androgyny: possessing both male and female traits
animus: hostility
annelid: a segmented worm
annul: invalidate
anomaly: an abnormal occurrence
antipathy: dislike
antipodes: two opposite poles
aphorize: to compose pithy truisms
aplomb: self-confidence or courteous correctness
apostate: someone who renounces a belief
apropos: appropriate to
apse: a church recess that holds the altar
arbitrage: here, a complex negotiation
arcane: mysterious or secret
archetype: a recurring symbol or situation
armatures: armor or supports
armistice: a truce or cessation of hostilities
arrears: the state of being late for a payment
askew: tilted or not right
aspew: in a state of spewing
astir: in a state of excitement
astral: pertaining to the psychic, invisible plane or the stars
athwart: across
atonement: forgiveness for a wrong
atrium: a central Roman courtyard
auger: a drill for boring holes
augury: foreseeing the future or fortune telling
aura: the energy around living things seen by spiritual sensitives
aureola: the circle around the nipple
axis mundi: the axis or center of the world

The Dancing Plant/No Time-Lapse Required

The Dancing Plant/No Time-Lapse Required

———

If we sped time a thousand-fold,

Then spied on silent, leafy plants

Who stand stock-still above their roots,

We’d soon grasp how wildly alive

Our green-clad cousins are. They strive

And twist for space, wiggle their shoots

And whip their leaves like flagellants.

As noons fly past, like stories told.

———

I wrote those lines for The Water Mage’s Daughter (epic poem on Amazon) many years ago, and last night, for the first time, I saw this video. For this plant, time doesn’t need to be sped up. Just play it music and it moves! A true wonder.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEbMxWlVjnM

 

You can learn more tree lore in Loveland, CO this late May.

THE MUSE APPROACH TO STORYTELLING

THE MUSE APPROACH TO STORYTELLING

Seven years of teaching adult grad students how to tell stories at Antioch in New England showed me one thing: if they can locate their Muse, they’re golden. I’ve seen it many times. Given a few lines of story on a slip of paper––a folkloric fragment from somewhere in the middle of a tale they’ve never read––students often end up telling a 45-minute long original tale, crafting origins and endings. No kidding. It’s as if an acorn sprouted and instantly grew into an oak

It’s a glorious act to watch. How, without rehearsal and in their own words, they enter the image-rich Muse in their minds and become like jazz musicians of story, making it up as they go along.

The Muse, least Calliope, the Muse of Eloquence as the ancient Greeks thought of it, is a fusion of imagination and a certain kind of memory called “event memory.” Once you learn how to summon it, what James Joyce called “the smithy of the soul” fires up and off you go.

This coming May 25-27 I’ll be offering a full weekend workshop in storytelling in Colorado. Along with its emphasis on ancient tree lore, it provides a step-by-step process for Muse discovery.

Registration is limited to 30.

Details are here.

16 TITANS: Reflections on Presenting at the Boulder Climate Symposium

A Fusion of Climate Science and Storytelling

 

Although I’m an artist, I’ve been an amateur student of environmental disruption since 1985.

Witness the two Virginia tulip poplars thriving in my New Hampshire back yard for a decade now, where I planted them as tiny saplings in hopes they’d survive our harsh winters. They’re now eight feet tall, growing in a place they shouldn’t be. When they mature, long after I’m gone, they’ll be seventy feet, taller than the red oaks and maples living there now. Thirty years ago, the first winter would have killed those little saplings, but the winters are no longer so harsh.

Why did I plant them? Call it worry. Call it knowing that in another thirty years my back yard may be too hot a world for the sugar maples I love so much. Call it knowing that if there’s a die-off of maples and oaks, at least these tulip trees from a southern biome will survive to help build a new forest for New Hampshire. Our state is 80% woods.

Curious why the seasons where I live have been shoved back a month, I set about studying climate dynamics and Gaia Theory in earnest about eight years ago. My early background studying science at Duke helped a lot. Biology. Statistics. Geology. Calculus. The sorts of intellectual tools that allow science to make sense, even to a non-scientist like me. Gaia Theory is a bundle of sciences that looks at earth as a vast, self-regulating organism. It combines every science, from chemistry and physics to botany, biology and geology. And all the disciplines in between. It’s not a religion.

Since for thirty years climatologists have been warning of what’s upon us now–– despite members of Congress holding snowballs in Washington, D.C. and asking, “What global warming? Hell, it just snowed.”––the message hasn’t gotten through to the American people. With hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in our recent past, however, it may be sinking in. Our local Caribbean paradise has been destroyed this fall. And there’s no guarantee that next year, more superstorms won’t come and scour off the last untouched islands. Not to mention more of the Gulf Coast.

Snowballs have never been the point in all this anyway. It’s not that it doesn’t still get cold. It’s simply the changing patterns of cold. And heat. And the same old things humans have known for millennia. Storms. Droughts. Thaws. Downpours. Heat waves. Forests. Deserts. Beaches. No, it’s the trend lines that the people who pay attention to climate are most worried about.

Ever boiled an egg? On medium heat, thin streams of bubbles begin to drift upward from the bottom past the egg. Keep the heat on and it will take a while, but eventually your egg will cook.

That consistent stream of bubbles reminds me of the Holocene Epoch, the last ten thousand years of climate history. A time during which a consistent rate of boil on earth provided monsoons and seasons, snowpacks and standard sea levels for our coastal cities. A time when rain fell and ancient glaciers melted, providing reliable river flows down to the coasts. A period that allowed human populations to grow from a few hundred thousand hunter/gatherers wandering around following game to the billions of us living in mega-cities today. Most of our greatest cities sit at the edge of the sea.

Now, put a lid on the pot and watch closely. Without the steam escaping the open top, the same amount of incoming heat is trapped and the bubbles become larger and less uniform. Your egg cooks much more quickly, too.

Of course, the metaphor is this: the pot is the earth and the lid is greenhouse gases. The bigger bubbles? More extreme weather events, since that’s all weather really is. Bubbles. Just big ones, drifting around under our thin skin of atmosphere, which, even though it seems so immense, is a closed system. A pot with a lid we ourselves have put on it.

With all this in my mind I went to Boulder this past mid-September with an idea I developed over the summer along with David Takahashi, a producer out there, and a committee of climate scientists who helped jury the concept. Called 16 TITANS, it’s a grassroots effort to turn climate scientists and activists into good storytellers. Good enough to explain to congressmen about snowballs in winter. Not by using graphs and data, but instead by turning that hard-to-grasp truth into stories anybody can understand.

A young woman scientist from NCAR in Boulder (National Center for Atmospheric Research) in one of my workshops described her work. She studies cloud cover and mentioned how water vapor is a powerful greenhouse gas in and of itself. It traps heat close to earth’s surface, too. The problem is not just CO2 and methane. “How do I tell a story about that?” she asked.

As I was thinking, she mentioned an interesting theory about the planet Venus. Planetary scientists theorize that at some point in solar system history, Venus entrapped so much heat that its water seas boiled off, releasing even more vapor and leaving Venus in a permanent state of super-heating with a surface temperature of 864 degrees, hot enough to melt lead. This could potentially happen to earth, she worried, if we don’t get a handle on the heat feedback loop. The clouds she studied would play an increasing part in such an awful scenario.

“Begin your story on ancient Venus,” I said. “Place your listeners’ POV (point of view) at a beach, only the sea before you is boiling. The air is noxious and the heat is unbearable, and you’re a human. In the few seconds you have before you lose consciousness, the pain is horrific and you can smell ammonia everywhere. This is the end result you worry about. It’s scary and sad. So once you’ve described this atmospheric end game, then move to earth today, and tell your listeners that no planet is exempt from change like this. Not if you know physics and chemistry and how matter behaves in the presence of energy. It all depends upon heat feedback loops. Point to the trends. That gives you an opening to describe your research more fully.”

Other Coloradans in my workshop were worried about fracking, the first extractive industry ever to dot people’s back yards. They are wildly and desperately against it, mostly due to the fouling of groundwater. They presented another case in point.

“Do you know how amazingly creative a technology fracking is?” I asked. “Do you know everything about the process?” I’ve researched it quite a bit for books, and frankly marvel at the engineering involved. That’s wholly different from wanting to keep it out of my back yard, or my neighbor’s back yard (since that means it’s essentially under my back yard, too), poisoning my well water.

Even if you hate its effects, you can’t escape the elegance of the technology. And if you’re trying to keep it out of your own town, don’t demonize the people who invented and survive on it (wouldn’t it be nice, geopolitically, to no longer need oil from the Saudis?), but instead praise their ingenuity and be honest about it. That might do far more to convince them to sit down and compromise here and there than to scream in some intersectional crowd, holding up an obscene placard. In other words, honor thine enemy. Better than getting everybody’s backs up in a fury of competing economic visions. At least among Americans. Despite our warts, we’re still the greatest republic on earth.

And so the workshops went. People told stories and came to the conclusion that “climate deniers” have just been better storytellers than we Cassandras. Climate activists see the future and fear the long term. Deniers want to survive in the short term and live in luxury. Both groups see the short term. It’s in the news every day. But to imagine the long one, well, that takes a solidly skilled imagination.

Somewhere between those two perspectives, in a democracy, there has to be common ground.

More on the 16 TITANS project to come.

 

 

 

 

WHEN MOTHER NATURE DECLARES WAR: Houston and Hurricane Harvey

It’s simple. As the planet’s air warms it holds more water vapor. That means that when it rains, it pours. For three decades, climate scientists have tried to get their message out and much of the world has ignored them. They predicted storms just like Harvey, and here it is, along with Sandy in New York. But giving storms human names diminishes what they are. In truth, they’re weather monsters. They should be named Godzilla, or Hurricane Frankenstein.

Science can be hard to understand, but stories aren’t. If you want to help those climate scientists convince the public and learn to tell science-based stories about climate disruption yourself, come to Boulder, Colorado this September.

Living Beyond Hope and Fear: Warrior Principle, Climate Action, Boulder’s climate symposium, takes place Sept. 15-17 at Shambhala Center. This year there’s a new emphasis: climate storytelling. Join us.

Science Storytellers in Boulder

How do we reach the many Americans who, despite abundant facts everywhere, deny that man-made climate disruption is real and increasingly dangerous to humankind and earth’s creatures? Some believe it is God’s plan and there’s nothing to be done, nor should anything be done. Others are paid to call the science into question by business interests, despite the fact that the CIA and American military have been sounding the alarm for years. Our current president either believes that it’s not real or that adapting to the tipping-point nightmares in our near future can be done with sea walls and immigration walls.

The national conversation about climate we’re having today may well be the most important one we Americans have this decade, and to help with that, I’ll be journeying to Boulder, Colorado to join others this coming mid-September to lend storytelling skills to climate scientists and activists.

Composed of measurements and numbers as much of science is, it can be lost in the noise of entertainments we Americans so love. Climate stories, however, written and spoken by growing numbers of informed citizens, have a chance to break through to an inattentive public.

Living Beyond Hope and Fear: Warrior Principle, Climate Action Symposium takes place Sept. 15-17 2017 at the Shambhala Center in Boulder.

Saturday night I’ll be performing Gaia: Fall of the Titans, the Greek creation myth, followed up with a StoryScience presentation.

Saturday morning and afternoon I’ll be offering a special DOOR TO IMAGINATION: HOW TO AWAKEN YOUR INNER STORYTELLER workshop for climate scientists and activists.

Join us for this important conversation. You can register and purchase tickets for the Symposium here.

Please join us!

 

Odds Bodkin

 

The Helpless Sky

In the last line of a story I’ll be telling at the Climate Symposium in Boulder next fall, Gaia, the original Earth Mother, reflects on how uncomfortable anger makes her feel. Bad things happen when she senses injustice and she’s been implacably rough on her husband Ouranos and grandson Zeus during the story. What, she asks herself after she goes into hiding now that the Titans have fallen, could ever make her that angry again?

 
I guess the time has come. Our atmosphere is definitely angry nowadays. Basically, it’s drier dries, wetter wets, windier winds and hotter hots. Fire seasons continue to lengthen. Whether rain or snow, precipitation is heavier, hence floods in new places. When they do begin to spin, hurricanes and tornadoes are more destructive than before. Insurers are desperate for forecasts. For thousands of years, farmers and herders in Africa, South America and the Middle East counted on rainy seasons to avoid famines. Slowly drying out now, those lands are forcing migrants to flee what are essentially climate wars. We haven’t even mentioned our own great population centers, built at the sea’s edge.

 
Ever cooked spaghetti in a pot? You turn on the heat and wait for the boil. Long ago I learned that if I cover it with a lid, it boils twice as fast. Instead of letting heat escape out the top, I trap it in a closed system. Smart, right? It might be hard to imagine, but Earth’s atmospheric pot had no lid prior to the Industrial Revolution. Over the last 150 years, though, we’ve installed an invisible one made of greenhouse gasses from fossil fuels. It’s not anyone’s voluntary doing. We only figured this out a few decades ago. Up until then, all that exhaust was progress. As vast as it is, we’re slowly closing off Earth’s heat release system, high above our heads. Not completely yet, but we’re getting there, busily tossing tiny carbon footprints by the billions up into a helpless sky.

 
There has to be a way to figure this out before the thing boils, with us in it.

 
I’ll also be conducting a workshop designed to turn climate-aware people, including scientists, into The Cadre of Science Storytellers.

Wednesday Nov. 9th in Boulder, CO: StoryEarth Debut Performance!

Have you ever heard of a performance that combines live storytelling of earth myths with multimedia and provocative new philosophy? Philosophy that tackles the challenge scientists face in telling the true story of climate change? If you haven’t, we’re not surprised, but nothing like StoryEarth has been done before and we want you there.

With Gaia theorist, scientist and naturalist Martin Ogle, I’ll be in Boulder, CO this coming Wednesday night to swap center stage back and forth, moving between ancient story and modern science. Why? To engage the audience (and a further ongoing conversation on Facebook here) with the question: “Do our ancient beliefs about our and earth’s origins serve us any longer?” Yes, it’s controversial, but then again, how humans envision our place in Nature determines how we treat it. Considering global weather, one could say that the Earth is annoyed with us these days. Everyone sees it. Mass migrations have begun as people flee drying regions.  Sea levels are rising. Storms are dumping unprecedented amounts of rain on places that used to be safe.

Serious as the topic is, the show is also going to be highly entertaining. I’ll be performing The Elf of Springtime on Celtic harp and Fall of the Titans, an epic piece with giant voices and a full score on 12-string guitar. And the event will be emceed by Kendra Krueger, nano-materials scientist and Colorado public radio personality.

Even if you’re not in Colorado, if you have friends in Boulder, Denver or nearby places, please share this blog post with them. If they go, I’ll bet they get back to you, excited at what took place.

StoryEarth and is sponsored by the Parent Engagement Network and Entrepreneurial Earth. Tickets @ $15 general admission and $12 for students are available at: https://www.parentengagementnetwork.org/odds-bodkin