Richard M. Trask (a.k.a. Rich, Richie, Dickie) is just your average person, a “weirdo” in some sense, in line with the hypothesis that, in a true light, everybody is a weirdo in one way or another.
He likes to study the sciences, to write, to play at sports (tennis, cycling/jogging), to sing, even to act. Though not exactly a “song and dance man,” he has played and sung community theater roles such as creepy Bill Sikes in “Oliver,” the Pirate King in “Pirates of Penzance,” the Pirate King’s Lieutenant Samuel in another “Pirates of Penzance,” the leading Sergeant of Police in that second “Pirates of Penzance” (in which the Sergeant arrests the Pirate Lieutenant Samuel, that is, “I have to arrest myself,” Richard explains, though you’ll have to figure that one out yourself!). Other roles have included a singing Secretary of the Interior in “Annie” (plus being Hobo No. 2 and an onstage ‘Sound and Effects Man’ in “Annie”!). One might call Richard versatile, but he’s too modest to go around boasting about any of it.
He resides in Southport , North Carolina, with his wife (Karen); also their dog (Woofie) and cat (Zoomer), whose names perfectly describe them.
Richard M. Trask
Richard M. Trask has a Ph.D. in medieval studies (Old and Middle English language and literature) from the University of Illinois. He is Emeritus Professor of English, University System of Maryland.
He has published three books: 1) The Complete Writer’s Guide: Questions of Language, 1985; 2) Beowulf and Judith: Two Heroes, 1997; 3) A Telling Experience, 2018 (short stories).
His numerous scholarly articles and professional-conference presentations include: “The Descent into Hell of The Exeter Book”; “Doomsday Imagery in the Old English Exodus”; “The Manciple’s Problem”; “Sir Gawain’s Unhappy Fault”; “Old Bottles, New Wine: The Re-Creation of Old English Poetry”; “Why Beowulf and Judith Need Each Other”; “Looking Forward to Doomsday: An Old English Pastime”; “What the Seven Dwarfs Have to Say About Language”; “’Ech of Yow Shal Tales Tellen’: New Canterbury Tales.”
Other works include three produced plays: 1) “Don’t Try This at Home,” Cape Fear Playhouse, Wilmington NC, 2017; 2) “The Real Judith,” Cape Fear Playhouse, Wilmington NC, 2018; 3) “The Lake-ness Monster,” Thalian Hall, Wilmington NC, 2020.
His screenplay “Cosmosis of Worlds” was the Gold Prize Winner, science fiction category, Hollywood Screenplay Contest, 2019. A scene from “Cosmosis of Worlds” was produced and shown for the Fantasy/Sci-Fi Film and Screenplay Festival, Toronto, Canada, 2019. This script was a qualifying High-Scoring Screenplay, Liftoff Film and Screenplay Festival, Pinewood Studios, London, England, 2019.
The preeminent examples of these two aspects of English language history are “Beowulf” (Old English), and Geoffrey Chaucer’s masterpiece “The Canterbury Tales” (Middle English). Richard wrote a book about “Beowulf” and its companion piece “Judith.” The book is an innovative translation of those two epics with interpretive analysis of their literary and cultural significance.
Richard’s “Beowulf” retains the form and style of the original, transmuted into our modern way of thinking and speaking while capturing the colorful poetic diction of the source. Old English is the early Germanic medieval form (pre-1066 A.D.) of our own English language, but it looks altogether foreign at a glance and sounds hardly like anything we say today. “Hwaet, we Gar-Dena in geardagum theodcyninga frum gefrunon,” which are its first words, don’t ring familiar. It means: “Lordy, we Spear-Danes from days of old have found out about our glorious heritage.”
Chaucer (Middle English period, post-1066 A.D.) is more up-to-date. As you get into his work, which anybody can do with a few pointers, you feel right at home with him. Chaucer is more plain spoken than, say, Shakespeare. He tells it like it is, and like it always has been: “Fye upon the remenaunt” (meaning, “to hell with all the rest of it”). Or “thurh thikke and thurh thinne” (meaning, “through thick and thin”). He’s funny, insightful, and humble, “as I gesse” (meaning “I guess so”). Also naughty-dirty sometimes, which adds to the fun (“algate in it wente,” i.e., “looks like it [male organ] went in”). Always witty, never off-putting. For related scholarly analyses feel free to refer to my articles including “Doomsday Imagery in the Old English Exodus,” and “The Manciple’s Problem,” in the Publications Section.