Unlike other sugary-sweet love poems, the pieces contained in poet Sally Wen Mao’s Mad Honey Symposium highlight the dark and often feral nature of desire. Based off of the ancient Greek writings of Plato, who often held symposiums where guests would drink and banter with one another, as well as the ancient tale of the “mad honey” (nectar created from the rhododendron ponticum that caused hallucinations for those who ingested it), the poems set the stage for a mad honey drinking party. At this party, Wen Mao’s poetry shows how desire can add an element of unquenchable hunger into one’s life and lead the hapless soul onto the very edge of danger. However, she uses unusual symbols to explore the nature of desire—badgers, plants, bodily organs, etc.
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Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson and The Olympians series and The Kane Chronicles, is known for taking ancient myths and turning them into fun reads for middle-schoolers. However, in a video with AdLit, he discusses the impact mythology had on him at that age and what it means for him as an author of children’s books today.
Riordan starts off by crediting his English teacher back in middle school for introducing him to the world mythology. “The first book that I remember reading at that age that I actually enjoyed was The Lord of the Rings trilogy.” The author goes on to explain that his teacher at the time mentioned that Tolkien was inspired by Norse mythology and handed him a few books on the subject.
After that, Riordan’s interest was peaked after reading the tales about Loki, Thor, and Odin and it helped open his eyes to the fact that fantasy was far older than he originally thought. After all, many of the same themes that are found in world mythology can also be seen in most, if not all, fantasy novels today.
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