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reading tiger

a short note on fairy tales

In my early 20s, I was briefly consumed by revisionist fairy tales. I mean I read them, I wrote them, I read them some more. When I say "fairy tales" I mean the Grimms and Perrault primarily, of course, with a generous salting of Russian folktales because I was a Serious Russian Student for a while. And I did make some stabs at "multiculturalism" by reading compendiums of myth and folktale from around the world.

This project was chiefly realized through poetry -- Anne Sexton, yes, and also Liesel Mueller, Sandra Gilbert, Diane Di Prima, Judy Grahn. (And, yes, the Datlow/Windling collections too.) I contemplated going to graduate school for folklore studies. I memorized taxonomies of tales. I spent hours perusing omnibus volumes and folkloric dictionaries. I became intimate with the works of Briggs and Zipes. I took lots of notes. I wrote and wrote and read and read and wrote.

Now, many years later, I have come to realize that I was attracted to fairy tales in large part because of two things:

1) They are dominated by female protagonists.

2) They have non-traditional (one could say "lyrical" or "lyrically organized," if one chose) plots.

It's #1 that I'm kind of cracking my head against today. I mean, duh. I knew that, right? I knew that I was constructing an alternative canon for myself, yes? Surely yes.