by EILEEN JOY
Thomas Meyer’s reworking of Beowulf is a wonder.
punctum books is thrilled to announce today the publication, online and in print, of Thomas Meyer’s avant-garde and typographically dazzling translation of the Old English poem Beowulf, part-epic, part-monster-thriller, part-gore-fest, part-elegy. This publication is an immense labor of love on the part of three persons, especially [David Hadbawnik, Eileen Joy, and Daniel Remein] who would like to see more collaborations between scholars of medieval poetry, scholars of modern poetics, and contemporary poets with an interest, like Thomas Meyer, in the reworking and translation of older poetic forms. We also wanted to bring this criminally neglected translation, dating back to 1972 when Meyer was a student at Bard College, to newer and brighter lights. The translation has been reproduced in a 6.69 X 9.61 format so as to better display Meyer’s typographic pyrotechnics, and the Hitchcock-ian cover hopefully tells you: Beowulf is a modern; he's mad, bad, and dangerous to know and keeps falling into new adventure-time zones. The book can be downloaded for free, and a very handsome print edition can also be purchased for a mere $15, and more about that here:
BEOWULF: A TRANSLATION, by Thomas Meyer [Brooklyn, NY: punctum books, 2012]
Speaking of both free and also affordably-priced books upon which much time and devotion have been lavished, might we make a wee plea here for the importance of supporting open-access publishing ventures such as punctum books? punctum is dedicated to bringing out the very highest quality and creatively experimental books and journals across what we call a whimsical para-humanities assemblage [see our more detailed vision statement and Advisory Board HERE], and we are [humbly] intent as well on reinventing so-called “academic” and “cultural studies” publishing as we know it, with an emphasis especially on allowing authors the greatest room possible to innovate thought, to develop new forms and styles of writing, and to chart untested [even foolish] waters, without lifejackets or crew captains or gate-keeping overlords. We are also intent on rescuing and cultivating thinking and writing that might otherwise go unloved, untested, and end up lost or forgotten. In order to foster such an environment and to also give authors the beautiful books they deserve requires a lot of unpaid, volunteer assistance [and here I thank those who have already dedicated so much of their time to helping us format, design, copyedit, and proof our books: Cindy Bateman, Reg Beatty, Alli Crandell, Andy Doty, Kevin Eagan, Michael Munro, Dan Rudmann, and Andrew Weiss].
Every book we make, we will give away for free in electronic form, because we believe in the richest possible artistic-intellectual para-university commons in which everyone has access to whatever they need and want, whenever they need and want it, and so that authors can have the widest possible readership. But we also believe in the printed book: as a work of art, as a stylish object for one’s cabinet of curiosities, as a material comfort [or bracing cocktail] to hold in one’s hands, as something that takes up weight and space in the world and adds something of beauty to the thoughts, images, and narratives we hold in common. punctum believes the printed book is marvelous little tool of what scientist Andy Clark calls distributed cognition, and as those of us who founded the press are medievalists, well, we have a fondness for libraries of a certain baroquely Borgesian variety.
So consider buying a copy of Thomas Meyer’s Beowulf, to furnish your mind and library, and also as a donation to the public good of open-access publishing.
Thank you, and good night.