The Great Bear Tale

Having dipped our toes in the waters of iambic pentameter with Centrism Games, the poets of the Dragon Common Room are launching themselves on a new journey, this time with bears...

Once upon a time, there was a polar bear who loved watching the Northern Lights. Every day, he dreamed of capturing their beauty in a glass. One day, an albatross flew by and told him about an even more beautiful light that shone over Antarctica. Because of that, the polar bear convinced three bear friends to go in search of the Light of Antarctica. Because of that, they found themselves on a journey that tested their courage, friendship, and faith. Until finally, they learned the true source of the Light.

Once upon a time, there was a company of poets who wanted to write a story that would inspire young bears in the pursuit of virtue. Every day, they met in their Telegram chat to brainstorm characters, settings, motivations, story models, plot elements, and themes. One day, an artist who was skilled in animation joined their company and showed them sketches of the adventure they had been brainstorming. Because of that, the poets were able to visualize clearly the scenes in which their bears found themselves. Because of that, they found themselves on a journey that tested their command of meter, symbolism, rhyme, and story-telling. Until finally, they wrote the children’s adventure they had always dreamed of—and published it as a book.  

At least, that’s the plan! So far, thanks to Handdrawnbear’s amazing sketches, we have chosen our main characters, outlined the plot, decided on settings and monsters, recognized the stories that we are consciously drawing on, and thought about the kinds of tests we want to put our bears through. 

We have a working title—“Aurora Bearialis”—and a grail—the Emerald of Faith. And we have chosen a stanza form—ottava rima, the same one Lord Byron used for Don Juan. (Did you know he had a pet bear? Lord Byron, not Don Juan!) We are practicing the meter by reading Don Juan, but a better model for our own verses is likely going to be Barbara Reynolds’ translation of Orlando Furioso

The goal is to write a story for 11-12 year olds, with imagery and rhyme challenging enough to intrigue, but scanning well enough to sing. (Dragons can dream!) Think The Hobbit (with bears) meets The Wizard of Oz (with penguins) meets Parzifal (with a griffin) meets The Voyage of St. Brendan (with the Leviathan), with a dash of Terry Pratchett’s Thud. Probably. Depending on what happens in the Ice City with the penguins. With gemstones inspired by Marbode of Rennes. I’m thinking there is something of The Silmarillion in the story soup as well. And probably some Pilgrim’s Progress.

You get it, I know you do. It’s about crushing—and learning to be a good bear. Judging from how long it took to write Centrism Games (July-December 2020, from plotting to proof-reading), we are in for an exciting spring. Meanwhile, if you are curious how Centrism Games turned this space! DCR Books will be launching soon!

“In school, you have lessons, then a test. In life, God gives you the test, then you get the lesson.” —Big Bear

Top: The Bears Follow the Star to the South, by Handdrawnbear
Bottom: Big Bear reads Handdrawnbear’s “The Lion Who Forgot

NEXT EXERCISE: Bearily—A Prologue!


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