Frank Milan, former resident of Silver City, who was an artist and for several years MainStreet Project manager, was in town to promote his latest artistic endeavor—a fantasy poem.
"The Snake & the 7 Rings" manuscript was completed when Milan was living on the Oregon coast in the mid-90s, he said.
"Then I moved here and did other things," Milan said. "When I went back to Oregon, I told myself I wanted to get my art studio set up and then get my poem printed."
He described the work as a poem to be read aloud. "I began editing it last August, made a deal with a publisher in Oregon, and made it through seven edits. I had time for the eighth edit, and got it printed. I drew the illustrations for the cover and the inside. The designer designed the cover and the inside. I'm happy with both."
Milan said his inspiration was part high fantasy, like "Lord of the Rings," and "The Chronicles of Narnia." I didn't want sorcery and swords and dragons," he said.
How did he think of the idea? "We had a writing group, and Ursula LeGuin was coming. She's a science fiction writer. I said I wanted to write something significant, so I decided on a book-length poem in children's rhyme—iambic tetrameter. LeGuin told me the rhythm is relentless, so I softened it a bit in the edits."
Milan wanted something to tie together the natural world, the sun and planets and Greek and Roman mythology. "Plus, I wanted to make it a personal adventure, appealing to youths, while accessible to adults, too."
Youths 13 years of age and older seem to be attracted to the book.
As for the topics, the first ring is earth; the second ring, water; the third, fire; and the fourth, air. The reader will discover the other rings. It is set in about 1500-1515, at the beginning of the Renaissance in an ordinary world, with characters doing things that people can actually do. A hint about the characters—someone had to have a snake, so that's the Indian fakir.
In answer to a question about whether he misses Silver City, Milan said when he crossed the border from Arizona, he experienced as he always has a feeling of relaxation and an entering into the Land of Enchantment.
"The pace is so relaxed here," Milan said.
He now lives in Portland in the densest pedestrian area among houses built in the 1920s, within walking distance of the library, the food co-op, a bank, three food stores. The neighborhood is encircled by the tramway within a few blocks of where he lives. He feels quite at home there.
What project is he working on now? Milan is working on an animated film based on the song "Luanne" that he wrote with Ed Teja, who used to live in Silver City, but now lives in Cambodia, along with his wife Dagny.
"The song is pop music, influenced by classic R&B," Milan said.
He then began his reading for those gathered at the Silco Theater to hear his poem.