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Contemporary epic poems

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Initial post: Feb 24, 2012, 10:02:04 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 28, 2012, 8:05:45 PM PST
Nathan Kross says:
I'm trying to put together a list of epic poems written in the last 10 - 20 years or so. Just 'cuz I figured it might be neat to have a list. Also, since entering this market, I've realized that there are a lot more of these than anyone would have guessed!

An epic poem is a poem which tells a story, with a beginning, middle, and end. One recent epic poem was referred to as a "novel in verse". A lot of poems I've found are kind of on the line --- they employ a fairly personal perspective so it reads like the sort of personal, feeling-and-description-driven poetry which is most common. But if it's a narrative, or if it has characters, it's probably epic.

OK, here's the list I have so far (in the order that they come to my mind). Definitely want to showcase as many KDP books on here as possible, but if you know some non-KDP epic poems (which isn't likely --- these things don't really get professionally published, being as there's no market for them), then make a post.


The Brubury Tales by Frank Mundo: One of the best around. It's the Canterbury Tales transplanted into modern-day Los Angeles.


The Killer & She by Jim Bronyaur: This was a KDP book that the author must have taken down. It was really interesting --- a horror short story told in fairly sing-songy, Dr. Seuss-ish verse.


The Canterlope Tales: Casimir of the Sword and Silver by Katherine MacRae: This is a verse tale about a stable boy becoming a knight. It's really lovely, all the more so when you realize that the author was extremely young (I think it was 14?) at the time she wrote it.


Chandos Ring: Death Star Earth and Chandos Ring Book Two: I Hear Strange Cries at Jupiter by Mark Chandos: I've only read Death Star Earth, but Strange Cries at Jupiter is looks to be pretty similar. These are poems of the type I mentioned above which are lyrical moment-to-moment, though technically epic because they're telling a story. These also represent one of the most ambitious pieces of work out there, and are very unique linguistically.


Raven Cliffs by Lee Crase: I haven't read this yet, but the author's posted some work on these forums and it looks good.


The Space Admiral's Tale and The Smuggler's Tale by Nathan Kross: These are mine, and they're part of a sci-fi adaptation of The Canterbury Tales I'm working on.


Paradise Re-Envisioned: A Journey through the Bible with our Spiritual Ancestors by Michael Roden: A lyrical, non-rhyming but poetic account of the spiritual action in the Bible. It starts by describing the Garden of Eden and moves through the rest of the book. It adopts a fairly personal, feeling-based perspective, so it might be on the border of epic vs. not, but that's OK.


It just occurred to me that one of the only 'markets' for epic poems nowadays is in children's literature. Most children's books are long poems that tell a story, albeit really simply ones.

Does anyone know of any more? Remember, keep it to the last 20 years. Everyone loves Paradise Lost, but we can't exactly say hello to John Milton.

Posted on Feb 24, 2012, 10:58:22 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Feb 25, 2012, 12:06:35 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 25, 2012, 5:42:35 AM PST
Lou Jones says:

I doubt that "The Throne Vision" qualifies for Nathan's list of epic poems.

Posted on Feb 26, 2012, 6:44:28 PM PST
Nathan Kross says:
Maybe the entire collection does? I think this is it.... The Effervescent Slipstream

Would need to know more.

Posted on Feb 27, 2012, 7:32:12 AM PST

Not sure if this fits the specifications of your question. My favorite stories tend to be epics. But when I think of epic, I think of multi-generational, and/or involving the sprawling sweep of history (or at least some aspect of history). That is why I would think my book, Paradise Re-Envisioned, would qualify under that particular definition. It begins with Adam and Eve (re-envisioned, of course), goes through the sweep of the Bible (OT and NT), and then Adam and Eve reappear for the fourth and final part. It's my attempt to tie the Bible together in a mystical rather than a fundamentalist way.

Michael Roden

Posted on Feb 27, 2012, 10:04:23 AM PST
Nathan Kross says:
Uh-huh Michael. That's what most of us hear when we hear the word "epic" --- what I'm talking about here is more of a technical definition you can use to describe a long, narrative poem. Although from the little research I've done it seems not even the people who use the technical language can all agree on what it means!

Your book definitely looks like it belongs on the list, though. I'll add it to the original post, and thank you for the heads-up!

Posted on Feb 27, 2012, 12:32:43 PM PST
Hey, Nathan, you're very welcome. Thanks for starting the thread, and starting a list. It's an interesting topic. And it's interesting that you note that even scholars disagree on the terminology! I think this happens in about every field, as I've seen it in literary criticism, psychology, anthropology, and historical Biblical criticism, and others as well.

I'll keep my eyes peeled for more contemporary epics.

Posted on Feb 28, 2012, 3:19:21 AM PST
Dave Gracer says:

I started my epic almost 15 years ago, and then found that a friend of mine knew another epic poet. This, and a sense of loneliness in my craft, prompted me to compile a list of obscure/unpublished epics. I had an idea about starting conversation between us but it never took. If anyone is interested, I have some excerpts from a couple of the works below -- it was never my ambition to collect the whole set, but finding these was a bit reassuring.

1. S. A. Alenthony: The Infernova: an infidel revisits Dante's Inferno.

2. Toby Barlow: Sharp Teeth

3. William Brower: Chronicles of The Dragon's Bane

4. Mark Chandos: Chandos Ring

5. Michael R. Collings: The Nephiad: An Epic Poem in XII Books. Wildside Press. 3/17/11.

6. Kent Dellaire. Billy The Kid: An American Epic Poem
Billy The Kid: An American Epic Poem

7. Sharon Doubiago. Hard Country. 1982. West End Press, 1999.

8. Matt Flumerfelt: Hercules Unbound

9. Thomas F. Flynn: Bikeman

10. Bobby Gawthrop. [title unknown] "An Epic Poem on the Bible."

11. Russell L. Goings
The Children of Children Keep Coming: An epic Griotsong

12. Dave Gracer: Returning Waves

13. Lee Groban [1947-2011]: A Cure for Insomnia [supposedly 5,700 pages]. Chicago.

14. Ralph Hoyte: ISAMBARD!

15. Anthony Kellman: Limestone

16. Sachio Ko-Yin: The Apocryphon

17. Marc Ladewig: Odysseus

18. David LeCount
is working on an epic poem about the Lakota Sioux.

19. Levin, Hanoch. Lives of the Dead

20. Lind, Michael. THE ALAMO, AN EPIC (1997)

21. McGrath, Campbell: Shannon

22. Mitchell, Jack: The Plains of Abraham

23. Moily, M. Veerappa: Srimudi Parikrama

24. Ruth Elynia S. Mabanglo. Kundiman ng Katipunan (Lovesong of the Katipunan): Andres at Oryang.

25. Masters, Dr. Tom. Silence
University of Winchester

26. Kirk Morgan. Escaping Mortality: The Epic Poem

27. Ron Price. [[title unknown]]. "An Epic on the Bah'ai Faith." (??)

28. Sharron Proulx-Turner: She Walks for Days Inside a Thousand Eyes (Turnstone Press)

29. Rose. The Pearl Upon The Crown.

30. Daniel Schilling: The SkyPath Crusade

31. Daniel Schilling: The September 11th Epic Poem

32. Harvey Tordoff: O Lanoo!

33. Frederick Turner. Genesis: An Epic Poem

34. Gerrit Verstraete. "In Search of the City,"

35. Phil Wells. The Dudesong.

36. Philip Lee Williams. The Flower Seeker: An Epic Poem of William Bartram.

37. Niel Wright (Frank William Nielsen Wright; Maori name: Te Kaimahinui). The Alexandrians.


Cropley, Arthur and Pumpurs, Andrejs
Bearslayer (Lacpslesis)
A free translation from the unrhymed Latvian into English heroic verse

Posted on Feb 28, 2012, 3:39:43 PM PST
Cosmos and Spheres was written by Krystal Volney.The female and male poetry is divided into the categories of 1. fashion 2. romance 3. nature and the environment 4. children

Hello,salut!haai!barev!namaskar!MAMBO!hallo!aloha!yoh wah gwaan!ahn nyeong ha se yo !heisann! hola!xin chào !E karo! The Trinidadian poetess and playwright Krystal Volney.

Her favourite novels as a child were the Nancy Drew files, the Babysitter's club and the famous five. She started writing both female and male poetry in categories such as fashion, romance, the environment and children's poetry in the year late 2010. The poetess views humans as both monarch and emperor butterflies because of the transformation from an egg into a butterfly showcasing the metamorphosis as various stages of one's experiences throughout life. Her analysis states that as a result of the prodigious difference between each human being in the global society, experiences differ and some persons mature into butterflies while some remain at a particular stage permanently at various points in their longevity. The contemporary poetess's character is floral. In the 21st century, this meant that one consisted of many petals and each petal told a different story of who she was. She saw lily and hibiscus flowers as demonstrating what it meant to be a woman and a lady. Some of her influences have been Mozart, Van Gogh, Emily Dickinson and Claude Monet.

( Cosmos and Spheres-Available online at tradebit, lulu and on Amazon)

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 28, 2012, 6:29:55 PM PST
Nathan Kross says:
Wow, Dave. That's incredible. You're so much more on top of this than I was going to be. Next for me I'm going to try to read as many of those as I can! Maybe write reviews, at least give little blurbs and explanations.

Thank you!

Posted on Feb 28, 2012, 8:07:01 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 4, 2012, 9:36:44 AM PST
Nathan Kross says:
I'm going through Dave's books --- his list is pretty cool. I wanted to keep updating the original post, but there's a limit of 10 product links, so I'll continue here. Maybe make a separate website eventually.


The Infernova by S.A. Alenthony: A re-envisioning of Dante's Inferno, where the "sins" are not the ones that the Catholic church says are sins, but rather crimes against free thought. Written in ABA BCB CDC DED stanzas all the way through, just like Dante --- except in English. Honestly, this looks incredible.


Sharp Teeth (P.S.) by Toby Barlow: This actually got picked up by Harper Collins, making it the first professionally published epic poem I've yet seen. The trick is twofold --- it's free verse, which is the only kind of poetry which holds sway nowadays --- and it's about werewolves, which is one of two things which can automatically make a novel popular. It's described as a "horror thriller in verse". Rather unique, it would seem.


Billy The Kid: An American Epic Poem by Kent R. Dellaire: I'm not able to read this, and no sample is available that I could find, so my intelligence is limited. It looks like it was published by a small publishing house, and it's an epic poem about the historical life and times of Billy the Kidd. It also seems to be written in rhyming quatrains, and each line (fascinatingly enough) is exactly 37 characters long, so the text on the page falls into one solid block. If the writing is of a high quality, this is probably an amazing book.


Hard Country by Sharon Doubiago: Another epic about American life and history, this one non-rhyming. Also this is by a woman, and told from a woman's perspective, making this the first contemporary epic I've found in both categories. It's about a woman's journey through several American states, those states' culture, and the woman's struggle with grief. Looks like it's written in free verse, and the sample poems found on the author's website are absolutely excellent.


Hercules Unbound by Matt Flumerfelt: This isn't published yet, but what is available can be found here...

This is an epic which appears to faithfully recount the myths surrounding Hercules. It does so in mostly-rhyming quatrains (ABAB style). The author has a gift for neat little turns of phrase, and the poem definitely flows well. However, the quatrains occasionally break rhyme and rhythm in awkward ways, and you might need to already be a fan of the chosen subject matter to be able to really get into this. If you are, however, this poem looks like it has a lot to offer. The author says tongue-in-cheek, "It's what I call escapist literature for elitist snobs."


Bikeman: An Epic Poem by Thomas Flynn: Another professionally published epic, making this the second or third so far. This one recounts the author's experiences on the morning of 9/11. He bicycled to the site after the first plane hit in order to cover it as a journalist; reflecting on it later (together with Dante's Inferno), he wrote this book. Appears to be free verse, and may be very emotionally powerful because of the subject matter. However, I can't find any of the poetry itself online for free to be sure.


The Children of Children Keep Coming: An Epic Griotsong by Russell L. Goings: This is an epic about the black experience in America for the last two hundred years. It looks incredible. The writing is verse-ish, which slips in and out of rhyme, and apparently it adopts some styles from Gospel music, jazz, blues, and others. The book itself appears to contain more than just the poem; there's also a fair bit of history and some paintings. This one leaves me with a really good feeling.


A Cure for Insomnia by Lee Groban: I cannot figure out how to buy this book, so what I know comes from the author's website and this excerpt...

Looks like an incredibly modern --- think Allan Ginsberg --- poem with no identifiable subject matter. Might be kind of fun if you're into the experimental sort of thing. But I'm not even positive that this belongs on the list, honestly --- does this tell a story? Is it narrative? I'd love it if someone could tell me more about this one.


Isambard! by Ralph Hoyte: You can listen to the author read this poem here...

This poem was actually commissioned for the anniversary of the death of a certain engineer who built a bridge in southwestern Britain. The poem itself is mostly non-rhyming, and offers an embellished, strictly heroic account of the engineer's plan to build this bridge. It seems the author much prefers the work to be listened to than to be read.


Limestone: An Epic Poem of Barbados by Anthony Kellman: I can't find any of the text of this poem for free, but there's a very helpful Wikipedia article about the author. He was born in Barbados, and uses forms from Caribbean folk music in his writing. The poem appears to be mainly about the Isle itself, which seems to be a theme among these types of poems --- a lot of them are strictly about one place, or people, on Earth.


Unspoken Love during the Vietnam War by Zero: A short epic poem describing a borderline homosexual affair during the Vietnam War. Autobiographical. The poetry looks fairly simple, but the subject and history surrounding it may be of interest.


Haymarket Square by John Colchak: This is a poem about a criminal in Soviet Russia who's released from prison after the fall of the USSR, and struggles to make his way in the new world. I've read a bit of the poetry, and it's fast-paced and heavily rhythmical -- I would describe it as "exciting". It's also interspersed with some paintings and some more experimental, non-narrative passages.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 29, 2012, 5:59:57 AM PST
Dave Gracer says:
Hi Nathan and everyone,

I'm glad you find the list intriguing. I'm pretty sure that at least one-third of the works listed have not been published -- and it could be that two-thirds are unpublished. I'll be quite interested in learning about these works through your investigations. I could send you an excerpt or two of my own work if you like [I'd be grateful for a bit of a critique], and I've snagged some passages from other folks' work here and there.

Interestingly, Wikipedia has a long list of epics arranged by century, but there's one text not listed: "Arauco Tamed" or "The Araucaniad," by Pedro de Ona, but perhaps the original version is by Alonso de Ercilla. Seems to be a cloudy subject, to so speak.

Posted on Feb 29, 2012, 8:51:58 PM PST
Nathan Kross says:
Hey, Dave, I'd love to take a look at your work! What little help I can offer in the way of response and critique I will (I owe somebody else a full review currently, though). E-mail it to me at

I've also worked through the next few on your list. Chronicles of the Dragon's Bane appears to not actually be poetry, and I was already aware of Chandos Grid (I've had a few conversations with Mark Chandos. He's a special and incredible man.) The two after that I've written a little about.

Posted on Mar 1, 2012, 8:29:56 AM PST
F Mundo says:
What a great post. It's nice to see so many works. The only thing I can add to the list is another poem Frederick Turner wrote. Dave has his other one listed above. He might have this one listed, too, but I didn't see it.

The New World by Frederick Turner. Princeton:1985.

Posted on Mar 1, 2012, 9:15:08 PM PST
Nathan Kross says:
I've looked at the next 8 or so of that list. Michael Collings's "The Nephiad" and Bobby Gawthrop's untitled "Epic Poem about the Bible" were dead links, and I could not find them after a brief search. Also, Dave, now's the time to send me a bit of yours! I'd love to read it. Everything else I discovered is written about above.

Posted on Mar 2, 2012, 10:03:28 PM PST
Unspoken Love during the Vietnam War (The Poem)


53 verse poem

Posted on Mar 3, 2012, 3:04:29 PM PST
J. Hare says:
How about Haymarket Square by John Kolchak. Gritty tale of Russia's transformation to capitalism as experienced through the eyes of a petty criminal.

Posted on Mar 3, 2012, 8:48:42 PM PST
Michael says:
The link to my epic poem THE NEPHIAD is: The Nephiad: An Epic Poem in XII Books The poem is available in both e-book and print formats. Briefly, it is a self-consciously styled Renaissance epic in the manner of Milton's PARADISE LOST.

Posted on Mar 4, 2012, 9:44:15 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 4, 2012, 9:35:55 PM PST
Nathan Kross says:
The last post reached its Product Link limit, so I'm continuing here. Thank you everyone for the added books to the list! This is quite an amazing number.


The Nephiad: An Epic Poem in XII Books by Michael R. Collings: Written in non-rhyming iambic pentameter, heavily reminiscent of (and consciously inspired by) Milton. Centers on a certain episode in The Book of Mormon, set in ancient Israel. The poetry is very heavy and ancient-sounding. The author calls it, "a self-consciously styled Renaissance epic in the manner of Milton's PARADISE LOST."


Depth of Focus: The Stanzas by Kenya D. Williamson: Now this is unique --- she took what was released as an ordinary prose novel, introduced line breaks where she heard them in her mind, and released the newly created work as an epic poem. It's fantastic that the work itself exists right in-between; it's poetry if you're listening for poetry, a novel if you don't really care for poetry. As a poem, it's free verse with lots of moments of broken rhythm. The story is about a young woman in early adulthood, and her growth into independence.


The Alamo by Michael Lind: I just ordered a copy of this book (it was cheap enough, and interested me enough), so I'll say more once I've actually read it.

Posted on Mar 7, 2012, 7:33:50 PM PST
Kenya says:
Thank you so much for including "Depth of Focus" on your list, Nathan. I've decided to make the combined volume, Depth of Focus: The Stanzas & A Novel, free tomorrow. I hope you're having a great night!

Kenya D. Williamson

Posted on Mar 8, 2012, 9:51:40 AM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Mar 8, 2012, 9:56:22 AM PST]

Posted on Mar 8, 2012, 10:14:51 AM PST
[I'll try posting this again...]

Thanks for starting this very interesting thread, Nathan. I'd be interested to see the full list when it's complete.

Going by your definition ("a poem which tells a story, with a beginning, middle, and end"), you may want to add The Black Ball to your list. The description on the Amazon page is bit lacking, but--for anyone who's interested--you can find a very detailed description of the book and others like it by the same author (me) at the site

I hope people keep contributing to the list. Nathan, if you plan on posting the finished list on your site/blog, let me know and I'll post a link on my blog.


In reply to an earlier post on Mar 8, 2012, 10:46:33 AM PST
Nathan Kross says:
I'll take a look at The Black Ball when I get a chance --- work on this list stalled for me over the last few days because I started working a lot. I kind of wanted to set up a separate site dedicated to this -- my blog is kind of just for me as an author -- but I dunno. Dave Gracer mentioned to me that he had made a Facebook group for this once, but it never went anywhere.

I'm open to any ideas --- at any rate, keep an eye on this thread as I keep working on the list.

Posted on Mar 28, 2012, 9:09:46 AM PDT
F Mundo says:
Bumping this thread and letting you all know that The Brubury Tales is now available on Kindle.

Posted on Mar 29, 2012, 5:11:51 AM PDT
From This Far Time (The Human Saga) by Jo VonBargen is a rich and wonderful epic poem written as a 'time capsule' portraying the evolution of man. It is an amazing piece of work and deserves to be a modern classic.
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