[Bards] How to improve Kingdom Eisteddfod

Robert Fitzmorgan fitzmorgan at gmail.com
Sat Oct 28 22:09:09 PDT 2006

On 10/28/06, T'Star <bedlamandmayhem at gmail.com> wrote:
> I hope I'm posting this in the right section of the thread.
> The question has been raised: How do we improve Eisteddfod.  I would
> like to give a new bard's perception of Eisteddfod.  I have never had
> the opportunity to go, but everything I have heard about and coming
> from Eisteaddfod led me to draw the following conclusion: If you are
> not of the scholarship of the Poet Laureate of England, having iron
> clad documentation for every piece (Original pieces must have
> documentation for the style or need not apply.) and are not of the
> bardic skill of Taliesin.  Don't bother trying.  It has the feel of
> Olympic Bardic crossed with a PhD dissertation.
> I rarely call myself a bard.  My style lends more to Minstrelsy than
> what I understand Bards were historically  (Keepers of style and
> official oral traditions).  Eisteaddfod is a Bard's event.  Not a
> minstrel's.  I do not know if I can even attend this year, so this may
> be so much whistling in the dark, but this kind of perception may have
> contributed to the decline in participation in Eisteaddfod over the
> past few years.
> ~Svetlana Andreivna Volkova

      Standards of judging at Eisteddfod vary from year to year depending on
what the outgoing bard wants.  Since the Kingdom Bard is supposed to
represent Ansteorra the standards are high, and that is as it should be.
     The following is my opinion.  Others may see it differently.
     The ideal candidate for Kingdom Bard should have some knowledge of
storytelling, singing and poetry as it was practiced during the period we
study.  You don't have to be an expert on Medieval Literature but you should
have done some research.  It wouldn't hurt to have some knowledge Ansteorran
history and bard craft as well,
     They should be able to compose their own material.  A bard should not
only know the tales of heroes of old but should be able to immortalise the
deeds of our current heroes.  When composing new pieces it helps if the
piece can evoke the feel of the Middle Ages.  A filk to the Dukes of Hazard
theme song has it's place but that place is not Court, generally not feast,
and it's not Eisteddfod.  You can't compose in a Medieval style if you don't
know what a Medieval style is.  Just how strictly period a piece should be
will vary from judge to judge.  Some will want pieces to strictly follow a
documented style, while most will be satisfied so long as it doesn't feel
blatantly modern.
     All the research and scholarship in the world won't win you Eisteddfod
if you aren't entertaining.  If you are entertaining enough that can cover
somewhat for a lack of scholarship.  In Eisteddfod you will be up against
very good Bards who have done their homework.  A very entertaining but
non-period piece will often win over a less entertaining period piece, but
your competition will be bards who can write very entertaining pieces in
period styles.
     Documentation of a period style doesn't have to be a research paper.
It's enough to say for example," this sonnet is in the style popularized by
William Shakespeare" so long as the poem is in fact a Shakespearean sonnet.
     I you've never cracked a book and can't tell a sonnet from a saga, that
doesn't mean that you can't or shouldn't enter Eisteddfod.  It does mean
that you probably won't win.

     The other thing to remember is that Kingdom Bard is a job.  If you win
it is your responsibility to represent the Kingdom as a bard and to promote
bard craft throughout the kingdom.   If you can't do that then you probably
shouldn't be Kingdom Bard.
     As I said befor this is just my view on the subject.  Others may see it

Robert Fitzmorgan

> --
> "If you haven't found something strange during the day, it hasn't been
> much of a day."     John A. Wheeler
> Fitzmorgan at gmail.com
> Yahoo IM: robert_fitzmorgan
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