Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Gruden Box

Mailbox along a road I use for a frequent three-hour trip, and it always caught my attention. I think it was more than just the white-and-black stencilled garishness; the sound of the name stuck in my head.

It became the name of my poem's main protagonist; this is the only time I took a name off a mailbox, and I don't believe I ever went through a phone book looking for names as I've read about other writers doing, but then I've been working on the damn thing for a long time, with great big gaps between the work, and so my mind is hazy. Some names, like Prizren, I got from the current events of the day; that was in the '90s. Prizren was/is the name of a town in the Balkans that saw at least its fair share of slaughter and suchlike atrocities. Other character names came from the names of ex-girlfriends, or are altered names of writers or their characters, or are the Latin names of real animals, or are etc., etc.

In actual fact I mostly wanted an excuse to include a picture or two in the blog, but recently I found some reasons to include more of them in future posts. [And maybe some further excerpts too, even].

Anyway, Gruden is Achilles-meets-Hamlet, with the latter dominating. A previous version of that sentence included the male pronoun, yet Gruden -- like nearly all of the Termite characters -- is neither male nor female. I'm pretty sure that the great majority of the eusocial insects feature workers and soldiers that are non-reproductive, and in the convenient shorthand of our world that means that they're genderless. Therefor my epic utilizes gender neutral pronouns for these characters. I've opted for "seu," and its forms "seul" for possessive and "seult" for nominative. At least I think that that's the correct term of the case: stands in for "him/her." Though I teach English in its forms for a living, I've never studied ESL and consequently learned my mother tongue the way that most have; without knowing the jargon, meaning the names of the different components beyond the parts of speech.

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