Have you ever read Beowulf? I have once I think, a long, long time ago. Obviously I read a modern day translation as it is the oldest Anglo-Saxon poem in existence. Anyway, as much as I love poetry, I don’t particularly remember Beowulf. But after reading Be Brave by J. M. Farkas I may have to go back and read it again. In any case I will definitely be rereading Be Brave, because it hit a nerve, in a good way.
Let me back up and provide a bit of background. J. M. Farkas, writer and teacher, took a black marker to the text of Beowulf, and created a brand new poem, one that talks of strength and resilience, and the power to not only be free, but to love and be loved in the way we deserve to be, without limitations.
This was my first foray into the world of “blackout” or “erasure” poetry, where one takes a classic text and blacks out content, thereby creating a new work of art. I’ve read that teachers often use this as a way to repurpose old books while igniting interest in the classics. I am now fascinated by how one would approach this task… Do you already know what you want your poem to say and how you want it to read? Or does it come to you organically as you read through the original text?
In any case, Be Brave is an ode to women, to our resilience, and also a song for the brokenhearted, a message for all that there is a light ahead, and that the heart will be mended in time. It is also an empowering message of self-care and empathy, one that all women should keep close to their hearts.
I loved the dedication at the end of the book: Be Brave is dedicated to the author’s grandmother (she is also on the front cover of the book). J. M. Farkas’ description of her grandmother provides us with an image of a strong and remarkable person, one that reminds me very much of my own grandmother who passed away in 2012.
Be Brave will be published on April 3, 2018 through Andrews McMeel Publishing. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy!