Tag Archives: Snow White

Facial Types

When I went to Ireland, I began to recognize typical Irish faces. My friend Sam’s father was Irish and I didn’t know how Irish Sam looked until I was in the airport and saw a guy that could have been his brother.

As I travelled through Ireland I noticed this one face that I would call the quintessential Irish man’s face. The men were not really wizened but had broad brows, often creased with a line or two even at a young age. I saw eighteen-year-olds with this look. The eyes not large but big and bright, and the chin narrower, giving a triangular shape to the face. The guy we met in Donegal, that I called a leprechaun had this look. It was hard to tell his age because he looked both young and old at the same time.

There were other facial shapes that would be more Irish than not but this is the one I remember the best. With women, it was a rounder face, with high cheekbones and a bit of a ruddy complexion, or rosy cheeks and pale skin. Darker hair is more common and these people could be ancestrally related to the black Irish, those who descended more from the Picts than the Celts.

I took a university course once with a woman whose last name was Kelly. She had white white skin, rosy red limits and hair as black as midnight. She was a living example of Snow White and could not help but attract the eye with the vividness of her coloring.

When we got to Glasgow I noticed the rounder, broader faces with the fuller cheeks (puddin’ face). In some cases, it might be Scottish or English ancestry but seeing the people in Scotland I thought of my friend Chris and knew he had roots in England or Scotland.

Facial shapes are a general thing and of course the same type of face might be a characteristic of a another country’s indigenous peoples as well. Well known speculative fiction editor Ellen Datlow has very curly black hair, distinctive eyes and cheekbones. Her chin is pointed and her face broad. A couple of months go I was at a local restaurant with a group of people. A friend of a friend came in and she looked a lot like Ellen. She had the black curly hair, the same shape of eyes and cheekbones, the same chin.

She was young enough to be Ellen’s daughter but I’m pretty sure Ellen Datlow doesn’t have children. So I asked this woman if she had relatives in New York. She said yes but when I said the name Datlow, she said no. And she was El Salvadorean.┬áMaybe Ellen has some Spanish ancestry in there.

Nature’s canvas is our faces. Each painting is different. There may be a series Nature does before moving on to try something new. My family is Italian and Danish. My brothers tend to take on the Italian coloring more whereas my sister and I are fairer hair and skinned, like the Danish side. We also look more like that side of the family, but it’s a combination. Nature doesn’t just work in paint but in mosaics as well, and that’s what we all are; pieces rearranged each generation into new and unique works of art.

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Writing: Revisionist Poems & Stories

A discussion of revisionist writing came about on another list when I mentioned that I had sold my poem “The First Taste” to Dreams & Nightmares. It is a revisionist poem about Persephone. I was asked what I meant by revisioning. A good question because the term is probably most often used in terms of history and politics. But on the other side are the revisionist myths or fairy tales. Some will come tagged with feminist revisionism but it goes beyond that.

I ran into revisioning somewhere way back, maybe first to do with the retold fairy tales, especially the ones that were in the Datlow/Windling anthologies. But I was also doing a course on children’s literature where we examined fairy tales right back to Perrault and the Grimm brothers. Angela Carter’s tales came up as some early revisionist fairy tales. I’ve also run into it in poetry but don’t remember when anymore. It could have been in the creative writing courses at UBC or in the world of speculative poetry.

I guess the basis for any revisioning poem is that instead of a third person or narrative tale of a hero’s or god’s deeds, the tale is now told in first person, though third person is also used. It might also be in the voice of the lesser being/mortal/bad guy who traditionally was fairly two-dimensional. This is not always the case with stories, which may also be in third person, but all tend to delve into the psyche of the person and how they feel.

This is sort of what happened to SF when it evolved past the embryonic stage of BEMs (bug-eyed monsters) and started to become more realistic; or magic realism, set in today’s world with just a small twist of otherness. (Is this the bastard child of canlit and spec fic?)

Like all genre labels, revisioning is just another fancy word for categorizing what we write. ­čÖé In my revisioning poems (which really is just a classic tale, whether fairy tale or heroic myth, from another point of view) I’ve written on Dionysus, Kore/Persephone, Athena, Leda, Psyche, Demeter, Aphrodite (though the last really doesn’t fit the same way as the others). I’ve also written one story on the oracle on Pythos before it/she became the Delphic oracle.

In stories, I’ve taken various fairy tales and rewrote them as well, from the Princess and the Pea, to Snow White, to Dorothy after Oz.I’m sure there are other takes on revisioning but this is pretty much how I see and understand it. One well-known child’s story done in a revisionist mode is the about the three little pigs but from the wolf’s point of view, pointing out how he was framed.

Classical fairy tales are fairly thin and two-dimensional, offering very little depth into the whys and wherefores. Many fairy tales were cautionary tales, and others were, what academics now presume, tales to show/train young women for their eventual separation from their parents, and subsequent marriages. It is the purview of fantasy and speculative fiction to take the regular world and twist the what-if. If we’re looking at old, tried and true┬á tales, then it’s turning the story on its edge and presenting a new view.

Whether called revisionist, speculative or just plain fantasy, taking the classics and showing a new perspective is part of the evolutionary process. Fairy tales, myths, fables were once passed down, word of mouth from person to person. The oral tradition actually kept the story current to the times as the teller would adapt or change aspects to suit the understanding of the listeners. The constant evolution means many stories have passed over the lips of humanity to be lost in the trails of time. With the newer tradition of taking those now codified tales, whether Sleeping Beauty or the tale of Eros and Psyche and telling a new story, the process continues to bring evolution to the myths and fairy tales of our ancestors.

Here is a lesson plan on revisionist fairy tales for anyone who teaches about writing and reading: http://www.readwritethink.org/lessons/lesson_view.asp?id=992

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