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The Trinity Voice

The student news site of Trinity Preparatory School

The Trinity Voice

The student news site of Trinity Preparatory School

The Trinity Voice

Senior Publishes Bilingual Poetry Collection

Graphics courtesy of Megan Vu
An illustration of Charon the ferryman for Megan Vu’s book by Clarissa Du.

   Few students at Trinity become published authors, much less with books written in two languages. However, senior Megan Vu has accomplished this feat with her new poetry collection titled “Ex Caelis ad Tartarum,” or “From The Heavens to Tartarus.” It contains 20 free form poems written in Latin, the language Vu took from sixth grade, with English translations. Award-winning author and Trinity Prep alumna Meg Nocero provided the book description and a commendation on the back of the book.

   “The words dance on the page, delightfully evoking imagery that has one curious as to the stories’ mythical unfolding,” Nocero wrote. “Bravo to a wonderful debut. Well-done!”

   As the title insinuates, the theme of the book is a descent from the heavens to hell. According to Vu, the book starts with the heavens; heavenly bodies and stars, then the earth, and finally the poems related to hell and the outer world. She decided on this theme after reading poems in Honors Latin Three, a class that additionally motivated her to write the book.

   “We were reading a lot of Catullus poems, and I think I got the idea from that,” Vu said. “Honestly, he talks about a lot of nature.”

   The collection of poems is a result of Vu honing her language skills and fluency, which assisted her in Latin competitions. Last year, she placed second, with Maxima Cum Laude in the National SCRIBO contest. Recently this year, she won a gold medal with Summa Cum Laude on the National Latin Exam.

   According to Vu, writing poems in Latin is especially difficult as the structure and grammar both require the writer’s complete attention.

   “I always have my [Latin] dictionary in my hand while looking at that,” Vu said. “And I typed the poems [with] the other.”

   While this is her first time writing a poem collection, she has experience writing short stories. Still, it was challenging to juggle schoolwork and writing.

   “I was overwhelmed with schoolwork at the time, so I wasn’t able to write my book until Christmas,” Vu said. “I took really long breaks in between.”

   She finished after eight months, but poetry is not the only thing the book contains. There are also three illustrations inside done by Vu’s illustrator Carissa Du, who is also her cousin. They depict Hades dancing with Persephone, Charon the ferryman rowing down the River Styx, and a figure fishing among the stars.

   Publishing her work consisted of trial and error, and she eventually self-published on Amazon after the traditional method would not work. The platform allowed her to manage every aspect of the publishing process.

   “I sent a bunch of emails to different publishing companies, but after talking to them in detail I realized that the publishing process would be way too long,” Vu said. “Some of them can take years to get published.”

   All the proceeds from the book sale are donated to the nonprofit social services orginization Kids Beating Cancer. According to Vu, she also talked with the orginization in late August about selling her book at their upcoming gala.

   Though her journey writing “From Heavens to Tartarus,” is over, she is working on a short story based on Latin and Greek mythology. Vu’s motto stated in her book’s foreward encapsulates her current and future piece: Latin is here, Latin is there, Latin is everywhere.

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About the Contributor
Iris Lei, Business Manager
Iris Lei is a junior entering her third year on staff as the Business Manager and Lifestyles staff writer. She enjoys knitting, playing with her dog and traveling to other states with actual seasons. Contact her at [email protected].

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