Poem-A-Day: Christine Heppermann (once more)

All right, I have one more poem by Heppermann I want to share with you this year. Previously appearing on this blog were some of her poems about sexism and the beauty myth. Today, we’re looking at a feminist reimagining of a fairy tale, “Rumpelstiltskin.”

And I have a question for you at the end. I’m fascinated by what your answers might be. Please leave your response in the comments.

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Retelling

 

What the miller’s daughter should have said
from the start
or at any point down the line is,
no.
No, you can’t drag me to the king.
No, I can’t spin that room full of straw into gold.
No, not that room, either.
Or that one.
Quit asking.

No, I won’t give you my necklace.
No, I won’t give you my ring.
No, I can’t give you the child;
the child will never exist.
End of story.

Once upon a time
there was a miller’s daughter
who got a studio apartment,
took classes during the day,
waited tables at night,
and when customers asked
what’s in the gravy
on the rump roast sandwich,
it’s the best thing they’ve ever
tasted, she winked and said,
Guess.

***

So I’m curious: what do you think is in the gravy?

***

This poem has been posted here with the permission of the author.

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Christine’s writing for children and young adults includes fiction, poetry, and narrative nonfiction. Her books include the highly acclaimed book of poetry, Poisoned Apples: Poems For You, My Pretty; the novel-in-verse Ask Me How I Got Here; the nonfiction City Chickens; and the Backyard Witch series (with Ron Koertge).

Christine has been working in the field of children’s publishing for more than twenty-five years. Her essays and reviews have appeared in The Horn Book Magazine, The Five Owls, and The Riverbank Review of Books for Young Readers. She has been a book reviewer for many newspapers; currently she writes the young adult roundup for the Chicago Tribune.

Christine lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her two daughters, two cats, and one husband. Find her online at christineheppermann.com. She can be reached via email at info@christineheppermann.com.

 

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Poem-A-Day: Christine Heppermann

When the Poem-A-Day series meets Women Writers Wednesday series meets Whom I’m Reading series…

My friend Sarah gave me a book of poems for Christmas called Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann. I love this book. The first time I read it, I did so all in one sitting.

Heppermann has written a collection of smart poems that investigate the intersection between fairy tales and gender roles, and that also explore the toxicity of the anti-feminist culture which is the fruit of those loins. E. Lockhart’s blurb on the front cover calls Poisoned Apples “[a] bloody poetic attack on the beauty myth that’s caustic, funny, and heartbreaking.” I don’t think I could have described it better myself.

Paired with these sharply witty poems are black-and-white photographs, by a variety of artists, which communicate the ideas of the poems without being too on-the-nose, and which are standalone pieces of art in and of themselves. I highly recommend this book.

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A Brief History of Feminism

 

Simon says touch your toes.
Simon says turn around.
Simon says touch your toes again.
Now wiggle a little.
Simon says he is not a pervert.
Simon says hop on one foot.
Simon didn’t say stop hopping!
Hop closer.
Simon says hop closer.
Simon says is that a push-up bra?
Geez, honey, calm down.

Simon says calm down.
On second thought,
Simon says you’re pretty cute
when you’re all worked up like that.
Wanna hop your sweet self into my office
and see my sofa bed?
Simon says, we were just playing, Officer.
Simon, anything you say
can be used against you in a court of law.

***

This poem has been posted here with the permission of the author.

***

Christine’s writing for children and young adults includes fiction, poetry, and narrative nonfiction. Her books include the highly acclaimed book of poetry, Poisoned Apples: Poems For You, My Pretty; the novel-in-verse Ask Me How I Got Here; the nonfiction City Chickens; and the Backyard Witch series (with Ron Koertge).

Christine has been working in the field of children’s publishing for more than twenty-five years. Her essays and reviews have appeared in The Horn Book Magazine, The Five Owls, and The Riverbank Review of Books for Young Readers. She has been a book reviewer for many newspapers; currently she writes the young adult roundup for the Chicago Tribune.

Christine lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her two daughters, two cats, and one husband. Find her online at christineheppermann.com. She can be reached via email at info@christineheppermann.com.

Poem-A-Day: Sarah Blake

Lately I’ve been exploring myth poetry and fairy tale poetry with my Creative Writing students. These are ekphrastic forms, responding in some way to some other art that has gone before –– in these cases, the art being cultural and literary. It’s amazing stuff, and I love it, and they seem to as well. In fact, every year I teach these, the myth poems and fairy tales poems my students write are sometimes their best work to date.

So I recently came across this myth poem, which offers the reader such a smooth transition from dreamlike story to gut punch. If you enjoyed Kelly Cressio-Moeller’s poem last week, even though this poem by Sarah Blake is stylistically different, my guess is you’ll dig on this one, too.

***

Aphrodite’s Dreaming

A shark bites my hip
and I watch the blood
curl out into the sea.

Poseidon pushes him
away and runs his hand
over the teethmarks, each
a little frown.

He’s having me
for tea, and everyone
is naked. He says, That’s
how fish are. Don’t be so

embarrassed. But that’s
not the right word.
I stir my tea with his
trident. I stir my tea

with his crown. I stir
my tea to forget
how he touches me,
knowing soon I’ll wake.

***

Sarah Blake is the author of Mr. West and the forthcoming collection, Let’s Not Live on Earth (both from Wesleyan University Press). An illustrated workbook accompanies her first chapbook, Named After Death (Banango Editions). In 2013, she was awarded a literature fellowship from the NEA. She lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband and son. http://www.sarahblakepoetry.com

A Rule-Breaking Poem for a Nail-Biting Vigil

The Path Often Traveled, the Path Less Celebrated, the Path of Ennobled Resistance

Do not go gentle into that stifling night;
Rage, rage against the snuffing of the light.

Do not go gentle into those good old days which were truly night;
Rage, rage against the smothering of the light.

Do not go gentle into that locker room of night;
Rage, rage against the rape of the light.

Do not go gentle into that back alley of the night;
Rage, rage against the beat-down of the light.

Do not go gentle into that Burning Time of night;
Rage, rage against the murder of the light.

Do not go gentle into that murderous night;
Rage, rage against the silencing of the light.

Do not go gentle into that good old boys’ night;
Rage, rage against the extermination of the light.

Crash ungently into that glass ceiling into the night,
and be light.

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day to All the Moms Out There, Including An Icon I Love

It’s been a good Mother’s Day here. Very little work got done (by me, that is — the husband and kids cleaned up the gameroom in excellent fashion), but since I spent all of yesterday doing the author-in-public thing at a book festival (which was really, really good, by the way), I will not lament the fact that I spent much of the morning napping instead of editing and much of the afternoon hanging out with the extended family instead of folding laundry or posting pictures on Facebook of the excellent food other people prepared for me.

I did read a fabulous post by sj over at Insatiable Booksluts that I must share with you, though, because it’s about one of my all-time favorite heroines, Morticia Addams.

Enjoy. And if you love Morticia, leave a note here in the comments about why. I’d love to gush over her with you. You can even do this before you click on over to sj’s post.

 

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Morticia Addams is a Goddamn Paragon of Feminist Motherhood

I’m raising my glass to Morticia Addams, the woman who taught me everything I need to know to be the best mom and wife I can be.

(Click here or on the title above to read the rest of this awesome post.)

 

 

National Poetry Month — Day 5 (NSFW)

So earlier this week I noticed that John Scalzi posted on his blog Whatever a list, off the top of his head, of women writers whose work had inspired him. It’s a good list, but clearly an impromptu one, and doesn’t include the women writers whose work he’d merely enjoyed, just the ones whose work had motivated him.

Why did he post this list? In response to this article about journalist Gay Talese and his disappointing inability to do the same — despite having worked with Joan Didion.

Again with the dismissive, or even anti-women, nonsense? Alas, yes, again.

Those of you who know anything about me have probably figured out by now that I tend to think the troglodytish idea that men are the superior gender is not only regressively stupid but also violently damaging. I find hope in that so many of the boys and men around me — my students, my colleagues, my son — are feminists, but then I look farther than my own proverbial backyard and see the presidential campaign, and I get kind of sick all over again.

So today I present to you this prose-poem by Tria Wood entitled “instructions.” It sums up just a slice of the unfairness/double standard/misogyny/internet culture/daily life that is still, somehow, being perpetrated in our 21st-century western civilization. I wager quite a few of the women who grew up in the time and place I did will recall the barrage of emails we got in the 90s detailing the instructions artfully arranged here. And just so you’re aware, this piece contains some strong language. This prose-poem was first published in Rattle as part of the “Poets Respond” series; click here to learn more about its genesis.

 

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INSTRUCTIONS

Check your front porch for potential attackers before you open the door for any reason. Check your back yard for potential attackers before you open the door to let the dog out. Check your front porch for potential attackers before you open the door to go to your car. Lock and unlock all doors quickly before an attacker has a chance to get you while you’re facing the door. Check the path from your front door to your car for potential attackers before walking toward your car. Walk toward your car while checking the yard, your neighbors’ yards, and the street for potential attackers. As you walk, keep at least one key poked through your fist so that you can punch an attacker with it. Check under your car, around your car, and in your backseat for potential attackers before you get too close to it. Lock the car doors as soon as you get into your car. Park as close as possible to the office, the store, the gym so he’ll have less chance to attack. Park in a well-lit area so he’ll be less likely to attack. Park at the end of the driveway nearest the street so that he can’t block your car in. Park at the end of the driveway closest to your front door so that you can get from the car to a presumably safe space as quickly as possible. Set booby-traps at all doors and ground floor windows, even if you feel foolish doing so. Keep the porch lights on, front and back, at night so others can see if someone’s trying to get in. Hope they realize that the person trying to get in is not your husband, your date, your boyfriend, your gay friend, your brother, your father, your uncle, your cousin, your handyman, your landlord, or anyone else who might have a legitimate purpose for being there. Know that it could be, has been for others, a husband, a date, a boyfriend, a gay friend, a brother, a father, an uncle, a cousin, a handyman, a landlord, or anyone else who might seem to have had a legitimate purpose for being there. Take self-defense classes because you hope to be able to fight off any of the above, or anyone else. If anyone attacks you, yell “FIRE!” because people will come running to help put out a fire. Change your habits and paths frequently so that you become harder to track. Don’t take any drinks that haven’t been poured in your presence. Don’t ever stop looking at your drink. Scrutinize your wardrobe and second-guess the fact that you wear makeup. Scrutinize your last few Facebook posts, tweets, and email messages to see whether they could be construed to make you seem insane, prone to lying, or promiscuous. When someone arouses your suspicion, respond politely, lighten up, smile, realize it’s just a joke, get a sense of humor, who do you think you are you fucking bitch? You bitch, you ugly bitch, you fat ugly bitch cunt, you fat ugly bitch cunt who needs to be fucked, you fat ugly bitch cunt who needs a fat dick to shut her up, you bitch cunt so fat and ugly you can’t even get raped.

 

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Tria Wood is a writer and educator whose poetry, short fiction, and essays appear in a variety of publications such as The Texas Poetry Calendar, The Mom Egg, Literary Mama, and Sugar House Review. In August 2012, she was the featured poet for the first annual Emerald Isle Writing Conference in Kodiak, Alaska, and in 2014, she was selected as a juried poet for the Houston Poetry Festival. She lives with her husband, her son, and their rescued miniature Schnauzer.