Draco Alchemicus! A Great New Read

The Dragon Common Room (link), or DCR,  is a lovely project begun by Dr. Rachel Fulton Brown, a noted professor of medieval history at the University of Chicago. The DCR write poetry and have already produced several good books. Their latest offering is out now, titled Draco Alchemicus (link)!

This release is “Act I” of a planned four more to follow. My copy came quickly after ordering, and it blew me away with its high production quality. The format features one page of poetry juxtaposed beside one page of beautiful illustration by Ze Nuno Fraga, who is a great artist out of Portugal. The poetry is written in Spenserian stanza following the form found in Edmund Spenser’s famous 16th century poem, The Faerie Queene. The Spenserian stanza is a marvelous form, one whose power has eluded most who have sought to employ it. Spenser wrote his masterful poem in a pseudo-archaic style that held forth a mystery that he made his own, but this style has snared the imitators. 

Buy the book and see that the DCR have bravely avoided these perils. The effort is to make good, original poetry for today that yet remains faithful to poetic metrical forms. This is unlike the modern poetry that you will find from say, America’s Poet Laureate of today, Ada Limon, who captures whimsical moments in prose, formats the text on the page so it resembles a poem, and calls it “poetry”.  Truly, the very best in contemporary poetry is better left unread, but that’s not true with the DCR crew. No, what we have with Draco Alchemicus is a telling of a great tale, in metrical verse, as God Himself intended if you ask me. Let’s get back to that, shall we?

The first sets the scene for what’s to come. A man, Damian, launches on the scene before a strange city and ventures into a casino where we come to see that a dark power has the realm and its denizens in a sinister grip.  This first act features high-stakes scenes of the gambling den, a magnetic and exotic vaudevillian magic show, and the allure of a vixen femme fatale. This sets the stage nicely as the drama builds into the acts to follow. You would do well to re-acquaint yourself with poetry as it’s meant to be by picking up a copy of Draco Alchemicus. 

Producing a work like this is not easy! As if the poetry isn’t enough of a task, the outstanding illustrations throughout the book are things of painstaking care. This is a triumph of many hours in production, with considerations of book design, Kickstarter campaigns, and many other details. The real craft sings through to you when you hold the volume in your hands. Go for it, support this stuff and treat yourself, too!

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