This weekend was King and Queen’s bardic. My intention and goal was to preform my first round piece and not either A. cry or B. fall on my face. This was a noble and challenging goal.
My first round piece was the funeral of Beowulf. My grandfather passed away unexpectedly in December. I wasn’t able to make it home in time to say good bye and I wasn’t able to stay long enough to be there for his funeral. I decided on New Year’s Eve that I was going to go to King and Queen’s bardic and do this piece as my way of getting to say good bye. This was intensely emotional and I was shaking. Thank gods this was recorded so I can see it later because I honestly barely remember it. I do not remember what reaction I was getting from the crowd, I don’t remember anything other than I managed to get the words out, fling down my arm rings when I intended to, and make it out of the hall without collapsing.
That was all I’d intended to do. That was all I needed to do. I had pneumonia a week ago and don’t have my full breath back. I made it to round two. Unexpected but cool.
My second round piece was a version of Alfred and the Cakes. It’s a fairly well known Anglo-Saxon folk story about King Alfred taking shelter in a peasant hut and being so distracted that he allows some oat cakes to burn, angering the woman who’d asked him to watch them. I’d written my own version where the woman in question is my persona’s grandmother. It was a well received comedy piece that frankly I needed after Beowulf. This piece? I’d prepped enough to know the story, but had not practiced gestures, had only run through it in front of other people once, and really was doing it off the cuff not expecting to get anywhere with it. It was just a fun little fluff piece.
Four people made it to round three. I heard three names called and figured I hadn’t made the cut. I wouldn’t have been surprised, there were *A Lot* of talented performers and some really, really well done pieces.
They called my name for round three.
I swear my Laurel was more excited than I was. I was more shocked than anything else, however yelling ‘what the fuck?!’ isn’t appropriate in court no matter how tempting.
Round three was a resume round. You submitted a small sheet explaining what types of performance you were able to give and their Majesties decided what they wanted to hear from you. I admit I seeded my resume hard. I wrote that I was able to do original poetry, prose, or soothsaying. I’d already done a poem, and a piece of prose. Three guesses what their Majesties decided they wanted from me and the first two don’t count.
Before I explain round three, allow me to give you a bit of background. My friends/household are a whole mess of bad idea bears. They are evil people who don’t talk me out of poor plans when I have them and in fact actively encourage such things. My friends, when I say ‘soothsaying’ what comes to mind? Tarot cards? Reading omens? How about reading entrails?
Allow me to introduce Beastie:
Beastie is, in fact, a dead crochet rabbit. I made said bunny in January in a fit of poor ideas. Beastie comes complete with removable entrails to facilitate reading:
Back to the competition. I’m sure you can see where this is going. Their Majesties asked for soothsaying, but threw in the curve ball of demanding valor as the topic. Guys? I’d written a poem about the retirement of their current Majesties and the rise of their Highnesses (ok, the second half was only slightly cheating as it is the praise poem for Avelina that I wrote as part of the crown poetry project, but it fit ok?). This poem? No longer worked as written. I had thirty minutes between my name being called and having to give my third round performance. Twenty of those minutes were spent frantically editing and rewriting the poem to make it fit both the theme and keep it in the style I’d wanted (a mix of Irish alliterative and Saxon alliterative to honor both their Majesties and their Highnesses respectively). Needless to say I was not memorized.
HOWEVER! Someone (Edit: Identified as Iain Douglas, THANK YOU!) loaned me a table to read Beastie’s entrails on so I wouldn’t have to kneel on the ground. I was also going first. This allowed me to set my piece of paper with my poem before my performance so unless you knew to look for it? It looked like I was consulting the entrails, not reading. Kudos to me!
Here is the poem in it’s revised glory (I’m proud I managed to pull off the edits/rewrites):
Crown of the East I cry your Wyrd
Brennan and Caoilfhionn bright earned boon
Joining in Joy at Journey’s end
Peace now promised to proud world king
Stronghold left safe in strong new hands
Long has her love sustained her lord
feeding his fire to face his foes
Keeper of Keys she kindles hope
holding the hearth his heart to ease
support she shares so he may stand
gracious and good she gives him strength
swiftly by skill of sword and shield
Kenrick rises to regain her crown
Boldly in battle he balks not
valor of war king our victory gains.
I managed to start out funny (there’s only so serious you can be when holding a dead fake bunny), but then did that poem. I sat my butt down and watched the other three performers. I was fairly certain that, while I had fun, I did not win anything. I wasn’t intending to win anything, I wasn’t gunning for it. All I’d needed was to do my first round piece.
Court happened. They called for Mistress Alys Mackintosh to replace Master William as Queen’s bard. I was fairly certain that another competitor (Drake) had taken King’s. I knew he was gunning for it and he’d put on a really good showing.
This will either be a really successful and exciting year, or I’m going to crash and burn. We’ll all find out together.