TheSilmarillionWriters'Guild

Newsletter: April 2009

Table of Contents


SWG News

April Is International Poetry Month!

As in years past, the SWG will be honoring International Poetry Month. We encourage our authors to try their hands at writing in verse and our readers to consider the almost four-dozen poems we have in our archive!

Interested in learning more? The Word Shop has an extensive list of poetic forms and terms. Bartleby.com has an impressive collection of poems and poetry anthologies. The Academy of American Poets has still more (and a poem-a-day for International Poetry Month!). And, of course, Tolkien was an avid poet as well. Find a collection of his poems on Poem Hunter.

Following is a list of poems by our SWG authors!

After all are gone by ford_of _bruinen
The angel that came from the West by ford_of _bruinen
Awakening by ford_of _bruinen
Begging and Betrayal by ford_of_bruinen
Beleg by ford_of _bruinen
Consumed by Vicki Turner
Embers by Elleth
Faded and Pale by ford_of _bruinen
Falling by ford_of _bruinen
Feanorian Fates series: Eru's Lament by Alassante
Feanorians by Vicki Turner
The first to fall by ford_of_bruinen
Flight to Doriath by ford_of _bruinen
Glorfindel Reborn by ford_of _bruinen
A high king on his death by ford_of _bruinen
Hope Across Helcaraxe by Mistrali
If I were a wood elf… by Robinka
I married for love by ford_of _bruinen
The King and the dreamer is dead by ford_of_bruinen
The last farewell of you and me by ford_of _bruinen
Love poem by Oshun
A lullaby by ford_of_bruinen
Maedhros's Lament by ford_of _bruinen
Maeglin by ford_of _bruinen
Maglor's Song by Robinka
Maglor's whisper by ford_of _bruinen
Mourning Luthien by ford_of _bruinen
Nienor is lost by ford_of_bruinen
On alien shores by ford_of_bruinen
One more minute by ford_of _bruinen
The OTHER Lays of Beleriand by Aiwen
Philosophia to Philomythus and Misomythus by Pandemonium 213
"A Poem for My Father" and "Creator" by Dawn Felagund
Seagull flight by ford_of_bruinen
Seven Falls by Dawn Felagund
Soft by ford_of _bruinen
Souls already lost by ford_of_bruinen
A soul in pain by ford_of _bruinen
Teler by Dawn Felagund
Tevildo by ford_of_bruinen
This Darkest Son by ford_of_bruinen
Turin Turambar by ford_of_bruinen
Wild by ford_of_bruinen
With heavy steps by ford_of_bruinen

The Most Frequently Asked Question: What in Arda Counts as "Silmfic"?

We moderators get asked a lot about the group and its policies, but one question we hear more than any other: "What exactly counts as Silmarillion-based fiction (Silmfic) and does my story fit?" We have an FAQ on the subject, but it is admittedly weak and is being rewritten. In the meantime, we thought we'd try to demystify exactly what sorts of writing our group accepts and debunk some of the most persistent myths about what Silmfic is and isn't.

Firstly, we often get asked if "Silmfic" means "only stuff that happens in the First Age or earlier." It is absolutely not that narrow. The Silmarillion covers an enormous range of time ... and yes, that includes parts of the Third Age as well. Years of the Trees, First Age, Second Age, Third Age ... all could be settings for a Silmarillion story.

We also get asked a lot about stories that span both The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings. Are they eligible and, if so, does the author have to stop posting them once the story becomes LotR-centric? Yes, they are eligible; no, you do not need to stop posting them once they begin to heavily involve events from LotR. In fact, we hope you won't! If you're writing the story of Maglor's life, for example, and you want to have him along with the Fellowship for a while and then living in Rivendell with Elladan and Elrohir, you do not need to stop posting at the first sign of Hobbits. Your story started in the Time of the Trees and heavily features a character from The Silmarillion. Therefore, for our purposes, it is Silmfic.

So what is Silmfic? That question is harder to answer than it seems. Part of the reason is because The Silmarillion and LotR are part of the same story. We recognize that, and there are going to be stories with a good amount of overlap between the two.

We tend to be very liberal in what we count as Silmfic. I often tell people that, sometimes, the best way to answer whether a story is appropriate or not for the SWG is to remember why this group was founded in the first place. This is the only archive that only publishes Silmarillion-based writing. On the other hand, there are literally dozens of archives--some of them quite large--that allow stories about LotR. This group was founded because Silmarillion stories were often getting lost and overlooked on archives that also allowed LotR stories. We wanted a place where people seeking to read about, write about, and discuss The Silmarillion could do so without feeling like they were competing with the much louder and more popular LotR fandom. We did not start this group because we dislike LotR stories or think they're subpar as compared to Silmfic or because we want to ruthlessly excise all allusion to LotR from our reading experience.

It is perhaps also illustrative that this archive is almost three years old, and we have never once had to remove a story because we didn't think it was "Silmarillion enough."

So, your story is Silmfic if,

But even this list doesn't cover it all. When it doubt, please feel free to contact us at moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org; send a summary or the whole story, and we'll let you know if we feel it is appropriate for our archive.

Addition to Site Etiquette: Moderator Involvement

Besides running the site and making decisions about the group, our moderators are also active members of the SWG. This only makes sense: We generally choose moderators from among the most active members! However, this can, at times, cause confusion. If a moderator leaves a review on your story, leaves you a comment on the LiveJournal community, or replies to you on the Yahoo! group, when are these interactions "official" site business?

We have added a section to our Site Etiquette clarifying this. In short, they're not. Site moderators will never deal with issues involving individual members in a forum accessible to the public or the membership base. We will always contact people privately from one of the site email accounts.

Sometimes, of course, the moderators post announcements on the mailing list or LJ community. These will always be clearly marked as moderator posts or announcements.

The change to the Site Etiquette is as follows:

7. Our site moderators are also contributing members of the SWG who interact with other members through public forums like the site's review system or the email discussion list. Members should be aware that moderators will never address private issues or concerns through any public systems. All such correspondence will be conducted through private email and will be clearly identified as official group business. Any official group business conducted by an individual moderator using tools such as the email discussion group or the LiveJournal community to reach the entire membership base will be clearly labeled as such. In all other matters, moderators carry the same status as SWG members.

Notice about the Moderator Email Account

Our email address at moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org was becoming a spam trap, so--to preserve our sanity--we are testing an additional spam filter. So far, it seems to be doing a good job of sorting the legitimate emails from the spam, but if you email us at this address and don't hear a reply within a day, please either contact one of the moderators privately or use the loremaster@silmarillionwritersguild.org, which is not being filtered. If we have any problems with legitimate emails being lost, we will discontinue using the filter.

Back to Middle-earth Month: Round-up and Acknowledgements

March was Back to Middle-earth Month (B2MeM), and this year, we posted daily prompts and invited Tolkien fans to respond to them creatively through fiction and artwork. The response was nothing short of amazing: We currently have 296 different works created by 32 different writers and artists--296 and counting! We invite and encourage everyone to take a break in April from all that writing and drawing and check out some of the entries. Involving every race and every era, from uproarious to dramatic to thought-provoking, there is sure to be something for everyone.

To everyone who participated in B2MeM this year--thank you! The best prompts in the world, the prettiest banners, and the most organized project would have been worth nothing without the talent, creativity, and enthusiasm of this community to bring the project to life.

Also, special thanks are owed to Rhapsody and Angelica, who came up with thirty-six prompts to challenge, inspire, and amuse participants, and to Rhapsody and Oshun, who not only made participant banners but also an icon for every day of the challenge. Finally, to everyone who got the word out about the project to their own groups and communities--thank you! You are to credit for the diversity of responses to this challenge. I know Dreamflower from the LotR Genfic Community and Nath from HASA and am sure I am missing many more. I am grateful for your help and support!

To those who are aiming for the "marathon" of completing all thirty-one prompts: Please remember that you have until mid-April to finish your project. If you do not hear from us within a few days of completing your project, please email us at moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org. Also remember that entries do not need to be posted publicly to count. It is important to us that writers who use beta-readers or who aren't comfortable sharing new work be able to participate in this challenge. Simply email us to let us know that you've worked on a particular prompt--and no, you do not have to send your work to us either!

Finally, as you finish up the last B2MeM stories, don't forget to post your links as comments on the relevant post on our LiveJournal community or email them to us so that we may add them to the list on the site.

This month, we will be moving B2MeM09 to the Special Projects section of the site, where it will be available for anyone who wants to use the prompts or read the responses to them. Until then, you can find all of the entries received so far here and icons and banners for participants here.

Many thanks again for an inspiring and entertaining March and another year of keeping the dream alive! See you next year!


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Character of the Month Biography

Amárië of the Vanyar (1)

Oshun

The one certain detail that we know about Amárië is that she did not follow her man, Finrod Felagund, to Middle-earth.

One might assert that the majority of women in Tolkien’s work fall into three categories: 1) the unnamed women who must have played a substantial role in the unfolding of his history of Arda, but whose stories are never developed; 2) the few named women who actually have their actions documented to a greater or lesser degree (2); and 3) the women who receive a name but little to no description of their lives. Amárië, the love interest of Finrod, falls into the last category.

Amárië is mentioned in the published Silmarillion, at the end of an account of the construction of Nargothrond by Finrod, in the following wistful and prophetic words.

Now King Finrod Felagund had no wife, and Galadriel asked him why this should be; but foresight came upon Felagund as she spoke, and he said: 'An oath I too shall swear, and must be free to fulfill it, and go into darkness. Nor shall anything of my realm endure that a son should inherit.'

But it is said that not until that hour had such cold thoughts ruled him; for indeed she whom he had loved was Amarië of the Vanyar, and she went not with him into exile. (3)

In The Grey Annals, the language describing this same exchange between Finrod and Galadriel is somewhat different: the spelling of her name and addition of the statement that “she was not permitted” to leave Aman with Finrod.

But it is said that not until that hour had such cold thoughts ruled him; for indeed she whom he had loved was Amárië of the Vanyar, and she was not permitted to go with him into exile. (4) [Emphasis added.]

The only other occasion Amárië is mentioned in the published Silmarillion is in the “Index of Names” as a “Vanyarin Elf, beloved of Finrod Felagund, who remained in Valinor” (5).

Later in The Grey Annals, it is noted that, after his death, Finrod was reunited with Amárië in Valinor.

Thus perished from Middle-earth the fairest of the children of Finwë, and returned never again; but dwells now in Valinor with Amárië. (6)

Amárië is referenced also in the Index of The War of the Jewels, which reads simply, “Vanyarin Elf, beloved of Felagund.” The references noted above all refer to Amárië as Finrod’s beloved and not his wife. The Shibboleth of Fëanor states explicitly “Felagund had no wife, for the Vanya Amárië whom he loved had not been permitted to leave Aman” (7). However, a page later, the text contradicts itself with the statement that Finrod “had no child (he left his wife in Aman)” (8). It is perhaps significant that references to Amárië by name always describe her as his beloved and never as his wife, which could lead one to assume that once Tolkien had inserted the named character of Amárië, he had decided she was not his wife, but his beloved left behind.

In conclusion, one can assume from the texts that Finrod Felagund had a girlfriend, her name was Amárië, she was Vanyarin, she stayed in Aman, and they got their happily-ever-after ending.

Amárië or Amarië?

The spelling Amarië is used in the published Silmarillion. However, all other references to her use Amárië (9). Darth Fingon notes that “[p]honologically speaking, it should probably be már with the long á. The element comes from the earlier word magra, which morphs into Q mára and S maer (10).” He goes on to speculate that Amárië was likely “constructed to mean 'most good' ” (11). And further that

Tolkien invented many of his names in pairs or sets, and Amárië looks like it may have been invented in the same manner as Anairë ('most holy'). Anairë was originally assigned as the name of Turgon's wife, who, at that point, was not permitted to leave Aman because she was a Vanya (sound familiar?). When Anairë became Turgon's mother and perishing-on-the-Ice Elenwë became his wife, it looks like the beloved-stayed-behind-in-Aman story was shifted over to Finrod with a new yet similar name now that Alairë/Anairë was taken: Amárië. (WJ 323) (12)

Since Tolkien uses the spelling Amárië in every other instance aside from the published Silmarillion and it appears linguistically logical, while Amarië appears to be a deviation from an established rule, I have chosen to use Amárië here.

Author’s Note: I would like to thank Darth Fingon for allowing me access to his unpublished notes and guiding me to the relevant references to Amárië throughout the texts.




Works Cited

  1. See the section “Amárië or Amarië?” below in this article for an explanation of the spelling of the character’s name.
  2. See the index of SWG Character Biographies for other women of the Silmarillion. Among the women whose biographies have not yet been added, the absence of Galadriel and Lúthien is notable. Both of these women have large and detailed histories and hopefully will be included in the future. Lúthien’s role is central and well-documented. Likewise, accounts of Galadriel’s actions extend throughout significant parts of Tolkien’s history.
  3. The Silmarillion, “Of the Noldor in Beleriand“
  4. The War of the Jewels, The Grey Annals
  5. The Silmarillion, “Index of Names”
  6. The War of the Jewels, The Grey Annals
  7. The Peoples of Middle-earth, The Shibboleth of Fëanor
  8. Ibid.
  9. The War of the Jewels, Maeglin
  10. Informal written discussion on the spelling of her name, unedited by its writer, originally posted to The Garden of Ithilien writers group.
  11. Ibid and The War of the Jewels, Maeglin
  12. Ibid.



View past character profiles.
Read all archived stories about Amárië.


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Linguistic Foolery

Answers from Old Sources: Elven Food

Darth Fingon

The following answers to questions about daily Elven life are taken from exploration of Tolkien's early Elvish language wordlists. Answers are based only on analysis of given words and the theory that if Tolkien invented a word for it, it's fair game to use it. Personal interpretation may vary.

What do Elves eat? Are they vegetarian?

Short answer: no. Elves are not strictly vegetarian.

That said, the secondary answer is: yes. Some Elves are vegetarian. In fact, a word for 'vegetarian' exists, as does a word for 'food made from plants'. But 'food made from animals' is right up there as well. We also have words for domesticated cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, etc., and barn fowl and chickens, so it makes sense to assume Elves ate all of those. And preserved, salt meat, too, in case you thought they kept all that livestock just for fun.

So what else? If they ate domesticated livestock, they ate wild game. There's a word for that, and words for specific animals. Deer, boar, rabbit, goose, duck, fish, and more all appear. Eel? Sure. You can even try some camel for an exotic feel. And let's not forget other, non-meat foods that come from animals, such as eggs, milk, cream, butter, cheese, and honey.

Everyone can imagine Elves eating fruits and vegetables, but it's important to note that they didn't necessarily just pick their food from plants that happened to be there (though they may very well have happened upon random berries, mushrooms and nuts, and fruits such as apples and pears). They made vegetable gardens for produce such as potatoes, cucumbers, and peas. They harvested crops, including corn, rye, and oats, which they used to make porridge. They baked bread and cake, and made wine from grapes.

Really, Elves can eat anything. Even if you disregard the words that could be viewed as something other than food, we still have examples from every food group that can be interpreted as nothing else: salt meat, cheese, produce, and bread. Elves raised and hunted animals for food, and did have an agricultural system in place to grow (most of) the rest.

And finally, just because 'the morning meal' has always bugged me, there is a word for 'breakfast'.

Speaking of food, is it possible for Elves to get fat from overeating?

Probably. They have a word for 'fat man', after all, and 'fat belly' or 'paunch'. Then there are numerous different adjectives from varying sources that mean 'fat' (and equally numerous adjectives meaning 'slender' or 'thin') and verbs such as 'to grow fat'. On top of that, one can also be fleshy, corpulent, overfat, or overfed. And of course one can be a glutton.

Recall Salgant, who was short and squat. Logic says there has to be more like him. Surely all these words were not made to describe only one Elf.




View past Linguistic Foolery columns.


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Current Challenge

The Plot Thickens

There saw I how the secret felon wrought,
And treason labouring in the traitor’s thought,
And midwife Time the ripened plot to murder brought.

-Geoffrey Chaucer

In shadows, in secret spaces, people lean close with their heads together and plot ...

Plot what? This challenge asks writers to consider characters in the act of plotting something. Plotting often calls first to mind conspiracy and overthrow, but characters could just as easily plot something good: a surprise for a loved one, a marriage proposal, a wondrous invention. Or, take the meta angle and consider the plotting of stories and epics by historians and writers.

I am a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy.
-J.D. Salinger

Challenges Revisited: The Duel of Songs

J.R.R. Tolkien was an avid poet, and poetry filled his stories, from his first tentative imaginings in The Book of Lost Tales to the songs we all know by heart from The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. As April is National Poetry Month, it seems fitting to spend the month looking at Tolkien's poems and those by other authors based on his works.

This month, we encourage our authors to try their hand at poetry based on Tolkien's works. Not sure where to begin? The WORDshop has links to pages about dozens of poetic forms. Try a triolet, a tritina, or a tanka. Make us laugh over limericks and sigh over sonnets! Or maybe you tend to skip the poems in the books (don't worry, a lot of us do!) and want a refresher course? PoemHunter.com has much of Tolkien's poetry in one spot.

And, of course, don't forget to check out the poems by our SWG authors here.

Quote of the Month

Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.
-Japanese proverb

Want more challenges? Check out our complete challenge listing for more than three years' worth of challenges to inspire your writing!

Have an idea for a challenge? Some of our most popular challenges have been created by you, the members of SWG! If you have a plotbunny gnawing at your ankle, a favorite quote, or a favorite character that you think might inspire others as well, please send an email to moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org and we'll try to include your challenge in our next newsletter!


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Around the World and Web

Teitho

At Teitho, the challenge for April is "When I Was Your Age...!" Haven't we all heard that sentence in our youth, mostly spoken in a long-suffering voice by an adult? It would be followed by the story of a misspent youth or the recounting of a marvelous adventure or a wise decision we would never have come up with in the same situation. In the end, there would be a morale, something along the lines of "Do as I did," or "Don't ever do as I did". And most likely we would take nothing away from the story, and would instead make our own mistakes! If you want to participate in this challenge, head over to the website to see all further info. The deadline for this challenge is April 25th.

LotR Genfic Community

The April Challenge will have a theme of "Renewal". You may interpret the theme in any way you choose. The element for this challenge will be a type of bird, which will be assigned to you--and you may also use that in any way you choose.

Stories will be due the weekend of April 10th, and will be revealed on Monday, April 13.

To request your element, please leave a comment to this post.

Shire Kitchen

The Shire Kitchen challenge has been extended to April 25. See their LJ community for more information on how to participate!

"J.R.R. Tolkien: An Imaginative Life" Lecture Series

This series of the three lectures examines the broad span of Tolkien's life and work, with special focus on Tolkien’s experience of his imaginative gift. The lecturer, Dr. Lance Owens is a physician in clinical practice. He lectures frequently on subjects related to mythology, creative imagination and psychology.

This series of lectures was presented at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah, in February and March of 2009. The lectures are presented here both in illustrated Flash Media format, and as mp3 audio files for download.




Around the World and Web is provided for our members to inform them of events in the larger Tolkien community. SWG is not affiliated with and does not endorse the groups that we feature in Around the World and Web, and we are not responsible for content on sites outside of our own. Please use discretion and caution when visiting unfamiliar sites on the Internet.

Would you like to see your group or event featured on Around the World and Web? See our Promotions Page for more details or email us at moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org.


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