The Song of Siros

Student: John-Paul Richard
Majors: English, Russian Studies
Advisors: Dr. Bourne, Dr. Filimonova

The Song of Siros is an original epic poem written about Siros, an English airman, and his experience in a trench in the South Caucasus. The story opens on a cold Russian winter night, with Siros struggling to stay awake while keeping night watch. Lensky, a Caucasus soldier, approaches Siros and asks him to tell a new story, because they have already exhausted their own stories. The Caucasus soldiers want to hear a different type of story and figure that the Englishman will have one. Siros agrees, and the soldiers crowd in to listen, unaware of what will come.

John-Paul will be online to field comments on May 8:
4-6pm EDT (PST 1pm-3pm, Africa/Europe: late evening)

27 thoughts on “The Song of Siros”

  1. JP, your I.S. is ambitious but you rise to the challenge so well. I’m curious about what kind of work went into developing the characters’ personalities.

    And, of course, many congratulations on your amazing accomplishments! I will miss seeing you around.

    1. Thank you! I will miss Wooster and everyone there.

      My characterization was influenced heavily by old Caucasus stories I read in “Nart Sagas from the Caucasus”. I wanted to make characters that felt demi-god-ish and so many times I tried to align them with some sort of type. Pyotr is a character of incredible strength and another character Lensky is the witty character, and while they each are dynamic, they fall back to their strengths in times of need. Thank you for the question!

  2. What a creative and ambitious project! I hope it is published and look forward to reading it when it is.

  3. JP, this sounds like such an interesting project, and it’s delightful that it was inspired by a question you had so early in your time at Wooster. How did you decide to make your protagonist in the epic poem an Englishman rather than Russian? (Is this the “outsider guide” effect we talked about in, for example, the Harry Potter books?) Your narration here is super lively and helpful, too. Good work!

    1. Thank you Dr. Beutner! I decided to have Siros be the protagonist through a series of revisions and realizations. The first time I wrote a draft, I had Siros be a dunce racist I used to highlight issues I saw in other people. However, when my advisors read what I had written they told me it was clear I hated Siros and my writing suffered for it. That lead to me having to “go on a date” with Siros where I could find out who he actually was, and why he wasn’t a flat character. Furthermore, I knew that this area of the world might as well be fantasy for many readers so I would have to have someone who knew equally as little (Exactly the outsider guide!).
      Thanks again!

  4. Good job! Is it possible to read a full copy of your poem? Also I really appreciate the meme at the end.

  5. My dear boy, what a wonderful job! I’m glad you decided to weave your love of poems, even though “poets are crazy” 😉 and Russian history/culture together to form this fabulous work. I hope this gets published and if it does, I’ll buy you a beer!

  6. If you would like to come chat with me, please follow this zoom link below!
    John-Paul Richard is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

    Topic: John-Paul Richard’s Symposium
    Time: May 8, 2020 04:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

    Join Zoom Meeting
    https://zoom.us/j/98774364049

    Meeting ID: 987 7436 4049

  7. Hi John-Paul–it’s great to see the further development of the project and the presentation here! I’m wondering if you have tried any translations of poetry from the Russian, and/or if you have tried writing poetry IN Russian, and if these factor in to this project? Thanks and congratulations!!!

    1. Dr. Eager thank you! I have tried writing in Russian and it is HARD. I have translated one work into Russian and that was also ROUGH. But yes they did. All Russian poetry rhymes at the end so I knew that was something I had to do as well. Russian poetry, much like the language, is much more complex and so translating works from becomes quite hard to do. Thanks again!

  8. I cannot believe all of the work you put into this. It’s a really cool project that deals with a fascinating place in the world. I can’t wait to get a published copy! Молодец Ваня!

  9. Great job JP! I really enjoyed your presentation, especially the one you did before Spring Break. Your I.S. is very creative and unique. You should be very proud! I look forward to see what you accomplish in the future.

  10. Your project is fascinating! I can’t think of a better way to weave together so many complex layers of history and language than through an epic poem. Your narration was engaging, and I could really sense your both your enthusiasm and depth of knowledge. Slides 3 and 4 really helped me grasp the context.

    Best of luck with your future efforts!

  11. Great job, John-Paul! It’s a very interesting project that has lots of potential.
    Good luck in all your endeavors.

  12. Great presentation! The themes you explore are so important, and the ways you’re approaching these questions are exciting and innovative. Thank you for sharing, and good luck with publication!

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