Showcasing our authors – Thomas Davis: a contemporary take on the epic

One of the most unusual and exciting projects taken on by Bennison Books was the publication of The Weirding Storm, A Dragon Epic by American author Thomas Davis.

It was a genuine honour to work with such a gifted and prolific writer and publisher on this contemporary revival of an ancient poetic tradition. As Thomas explains:

“Epic poetry has shaped thought and inspired men and women to feel the pulse of the universe for a long, long time. It mirrors our deepest selves.
 
“This age, in all its confusion, is a continuation of ages past, not a separation, and the epic still has a relevant story to tell. Perhaps more so than ever.”

Thomas Davis’s published work includes his historical novel, In the Unsettled Homeland of Dreams (All Things That Matter Press, 2019), which was awarded the prestigious 2019 Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award, and Sustaining the Forest, the People, and the Spirit, published by State University of New York (SUNY) Press.

His poetry has appeared in many journals, anthologies, and magazines, including the Wisconsin Academy Journal, The Lyric, and The Peninsula Pulse. He also writes short stories and plays and has given poetry readings throughout the United States as well as in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.

Find out more about the setting and context of The Weirding Storm.

Here is the opening of this epic poem:

Invocation to the Dragon Muse

Great dynasties exploded life in layers,
Great swarms of species split from species, swelling
Into the carnivores, plant feeders, gliders,
Free swimmers, sprinters, burrowers, a motley
Complexity of life that spread and spread
Until intelligence was brewed inside
The combinations rioting life’s carpet
Across an earth of mountains, valleys, plains,
Seas, rivers, lakes, ice fields, steppes, deserts,
The cradle borning life, supporting life,
The song of meaning singing life alive.

But from this ferment of fecundity
A dark mould sends its spores into a wind.
It cleanses through a withering that wheels
Roulette-chance through the species’ massive swarms.
Extinction whirls destruction’s endless wheel,
And species once a glory on the earth
Depart into a nothingness where spirits
Flow through a wind that is no wind, a life
That is no life, a place that is no place.

Causation dances like a puppet jerked
By unseen strings as endings build and build.
An individual sparks against the spark
Of individuals from another species.
The wind blows withering; it blows and blows.

The question is, the question is, can mind
Unravel paths that lead toward the dance
Extinction dances as a species breathes?
Or is the dance of chaos such that darkness
Is always lurking where the mind is not?

I see a little girl and dragons as the wheel
Destruction spins whirls grim chaotic times.
I’ll tell their tale if earth and wind rise up
And occupy the march of images
Spun from the words spun from the loom
That shuttles back and forth and back and forth
Into the consequence of fleeting lives.
I’ll tell their tale as endings spin beginnings
And weirding slips from spectres into days
That chill the spirit with the possibility
Intelligence is not enough, is not enough . . .

Is darkness of the endless void our fate?
The warning that intelligence avoids?
Is wisdom ever in intelligence?

Come muse, come sing of darkness in the world,
The wind that is no wind, the breath no breath . . .

9 comments

  1. As Bennison Books already knows, I love Bennison Books. I also have enormous respect for the authors published there and have included many in the international anthology of poetry I put together with Standing Feather, a New Mexico poet, No More Can Fit Into the Evening. Thanks so much for posting this. The Weirding Storm keeps selling after all these years. Over last weekend four copies were purchased. I cannot tell you how grateful I am that Bennison Books took on this project.

    • Thank you so much. Such an honour to publish your work. No More Can Fit Into the Evening (brilliant anthology) is available here: shorturl.at/fjnt9

  2. Well done Bennison Books for publishing this work, and well done Thomas Davis for the sustained and imaginative act of creation. I remember reading this epic poem for the first time and being astonished at the vivid imagination confidently at work here. Tom is a prolific writer and I greatly admire his dedication to poetry and literature. The brief exert we can read here gives us a good insight into his story-telling power and his command of language – although such a short extract cannot do justice to the full work. I have a hunch it must have sold well and I hope it finds new readers.

    • Couldn’t agree more with everything you say, John. Such an original piece of work and so skilfully executed.

    • It is an amazing (and such an original) achievement. Thank you for all your support of our authors 🙂

  3. Reblogged this on bardessdmdenton – author- artist and commented:
    Another fine author with Bennison Books! Not many publishers today would take on an epic poem. Not many authors today could write one with such poetic and storytelling skill. Thomas Davis has also published with All Things That Matter Press and Four Windows Press. ” “The Weirding Storm” moves effortlessly and clearly, exquisite prose-poetry swelling every line, verse, page and chapter. There is pure genius in creative composition that marries complexity with clarity, achieves poeticism without pretention, and engages the lover of story and language equally, all the while offering insight into human nature and the fragile possibilities of survival for the world and its inhabitants. “The Weirding Storm” is an important classic of our time, deserving much attention and acclaim.” from my review on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3ZHtDcA.

    • Thank you so much for this wonderful analysis, and for your continued support of all our authors. Very much appreciated 🙂

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