Tag Archives: The First Taste

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. 🙂 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  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

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under art, Culture, entertainment, erotica, fairy tales, fantasy, horror, myth, people, poetry, science fiction, Writing

Science Fiction Poetry Association Contest Winners

Well I finally heard word from the SFPA contest, forgetting I ever entered it to the point when I saw the title by my name I almost emailed them and said, that’s not my poem. Duh. But though I didn’t win, I did receive a judges’ choice for “Don Quixote’s Quandary.” (Full details below on the contest). And I finally received my copies of Dreams and Nightmares #79 with my poem “The First Taste.” It’s also the theme for the cover illustration. The chapbook came out earlier this year but the postal demons ate my copies.

The SFPA Contest Committee is pleased to announce the results of the 2008 Poetry Contest. We received over 400 poems, from over twenty five countries. Poems came in from Australia, Austria, Britain, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, France, Germany,  Great Britain, India, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Romania, Scotland, South Africa, South Korea, The Netherlands, UK, USA, and Wales, as well as from forty US states.

The entries were judged blind, and the judges selected one honorable mention and eight judges’ picks as well as the top three winners. Your poem “Don Quixote’s Quandary” was one of the eight judges’ choices.

First Place: “She Seemed So Quiet” by Marion E. Boyer, Mattawan, MI

Second Place: “Artifacts of Intelligent Design” by Elizabeth Barrette, Charleston, IL

Third Place: “And I Fly” by Frances Shi, Woodhaven, NY

Honorable Mention: “Photograph of Mt. St. Helens” by Lois Jones, Glendale, CA

Judge’s Picks:

Marcie Tentchoff’s choices –

“Dead City” by Scot Brannon, Seattle, WA
SFPA Sonnets Chapbook (Spec House of Poetry)
Charles Gramlich – Wanting the Mouth of a Lover  (Spec House of Poetry)

“Potential Energy” by M. Frost, Baltimore, MD
Covenant by Elissa Malcohn

Jaime Lee Moyer’s choices —

“Don Quixote’s Quandary” by Colleen Anderson, Vancouver, BC, Canada
The Shantytown Anomaly #3 (Spec House of Poetry)
Greg Beatty – Phrases of the Moon (Spec House of Poetry)

“a star hunt” by Nadia Chaney, Vancouver, BC, Canada
The Shantytown Anomaly #5 (Spec House of Poetry)
Kendall Evans – Poetry Red-Shifted in the Eyes of a Dragon (Spec House of Poetry)

W. Gregory Stewart’s choices –

“Scientific Experiment/1927” by Elizabeth Penrose, Pittsburgh, PA
The Shantytown Anomaly #2 (Spec House of Poetry)
Greg Schwartz – Bits and Pieces (Spec House of Poetry)

“Future Freedom” by Elizabeth Bennefeld, Fargo, ND
Passionate Eye: The Collected Writings of Suzanne Vega by Suzanne Vega

Scott Virtes choices –

“Stone, Soup, Bones” by William Copeland, Redford, MI
The Shantytown Anomaly #4  (Spec House of Poetry)
David C. Kopaska-Merkel – Drowning Atlantis (Spec House of Poetry)

“Playing Duets with Heisenberg’s Ghost” by Peg Duthie, Nashville, TN
The Shantytown Anomaly #6 (Spec House of Poetry)
Kendall Evans – Star Birth (Postcard – Spec House of Poetry)

J. Bruce Fuller will be doing the chapbook through the Spec House of Poetry, which will include the winning poems, the honorable mention, the eight judges choices and several other poems that were on the judges finalist lists.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, entertainment, fairy tales, fantasy, myth, Publishing, spirituality, Writing