Erasure poetry – KIN S FUR – & a new translation of a tale from the Brothers Grimm.


cover grab KIN S

Because readers may enjoy this for several reasons, the earlier page is here made a post. There are several things to investigate in this longer than usual post: the book preview; the erasure poem; the scholarly work in translation and process by the author.

ALL KINDS OF FURErasure poems and a new translation of a tale from the Brothers Grimm.

Available from the publisher

Cover art: Painting Bear Girl by Anne Siems.

Erasure is a contemporary poetry-writing practice. Poets begin with a source text of any kind and then “erase” selected words and letters, using one or several methods—such as whiting or blacking out their selections, or “ghosting” them with a gray font. What remains are erasure poems. 

In ALL KINDOF FUR, the source text is shaded gray to reveal the poems in black.

In these poems, Margaret Yocom offers a new vision of Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm’s controversial “Allerleirauh” (“All Kinds of Fur”), a lesser-known version of “Cinderella” that opens with incest. Erasing the Grimms’ words to reveal a young woman’s story of her journey to a new, full life, Yocom asks, What would All Kinds Of Fur say if she could tell her own tale? In ALL KINDS OF FUR , the heroine’s words rise.

In her “Afterword: tale / translation / erasure,” the author explores the history of the tale “All Kinds Of Fur” (and its many, international versions) as well as her translation of the Grimms’ text. She also discusses erasure poetry more fully and mentions other erasure poets and their work.  Here is an excerpt about the author’s own erasure practice:

. . . For me, the process of erasure has not been “What words should I erase?” but rather “What words rise?” Erasure offers me a chance to make visible and concrete a conversation—perhaps, even, an argument— between two texts. Through such a poem, rather than an essay, I can disagree with other interpretations of the tale as well as the assumptions of its translators. I can also create an alternative vision that presents the way a young woman, a survivor of abuse, would tell this tale . . .

Praise for ALL KINDS OF FUR

Open this book and enter a world of danger, transformation, and tactical survival—a multi-layered, multi-voiced telling of “Allerleirauh” / “All Kinds Of Fur,” a Brothers Grimm tale you most likely have not met, a “Cinderella” version with incest. In a new translation, Margaret Yocom first brings us this forgotten tale, stocked, as we’d expect, with kings, rings, beasts, and betrayals. She then, through erasure, lures out of its darkness another voice—the voice of All Kinds Of Fur herself, lying hidden within its words. In keeping with traditions of wonder tales, erasure practice poses riddles and embodies paradoxes—adding by subtracting, listening by looking, redrawing the boundaries of author and reader, teller and told. Enter this forest. Voice what you see. Is it sunlight in shadow, or a sudden shadow cutting through light? 

                                           —Susan Tichy

Some tales—the old ones, the magical ones—wander the borderlands between our inchoate unconscious and the day-lit logic of our lives, not to keep those realms separate, but to ensure something of our dark interiors leaks up into the measured day and, by the trespass, keeps the fathomless open. Margaret Yocom’s book gives us a new translation of one such tale, demonstrating beautifully how it is desire and fear, care and threat, humility and humiliation, love and grief, are entangled in such ways they might be the source of that knot we call the mind. But Yocom does more than give us a tale we’ve always known even if now we’re reading it for the first time. In her erasure of the tale, she shows us that a text, just like our own minds, has its own hidden inner life, and its own unconscious depths, a mind within the mind, a heart within the heart, a hearth within a hearth. It is a magical and necessary vision, one our culture now, in its incessant surfacing, deeply needs—this reminder, that beneath every depth, there is a deeper deep; and beneath every dark, a darker dark. It is in this dark that ALL KINDS OF FUR teaches us to see.     

                                          —Dan Beachy-Quick

These poems are haunted by what Yocom makes invisible by her erasures; what she makes visible has different bones. The incest in the fairy tale variously translated as “All Fur” or “Donkeyskin” shows through the skin without the “s”: kin. I have used these poems in my fairy tale course to introduce students to a tradition whose dark side has been erased, in other ways, by numerous editors and publishers—and which ALL KINDS OF FUR  restores. Are we not all, like these fairy tale beings, humanimals?   

                                          —Katharine Young

About ALL KINDS OF FUR, from the “Afterword: tale / translation / erasure”:

ALL KINDS OF FUR explores the history of the tale “All Kinds Of Fur” and its many, international versions (see summary of the tale, below*):

. . . As a poet, folklorist, and storyteller long interested in “All Kinds Of Fur,” I wondered what happened to the tale in the hands of other editors and collectors, especially those who did not revise their texts as extensively as the Grimms did. So, I searched for the story in folktale collections throughout the world. In these tales, All Kinds Of Fur / Cat-Skin / Sack-cloth / Hanchi (Clay Pot) always dons an unattractive body covering, and she appears to others as male or female, human or spirit-world being, or a living entity whose characteristics cannot be discerned. In Palestine, she wraps herself in sackcloth and appears to be an old man or a jinn. In Sudan, she removes the skin from an old man and covers herself. In Japan, she wears frog’s skin; in Norway, crow’s skin; in Slavic countries, mouse skin. For Romanians living in the Balkans, she turns herself into sea foam. . . . What I learned, above all, through my research was that the young woman uses many creative strategies to save herself and craft a new life. . . .

ALL KINDS OF FUR underscores the importance of making one’s own translation of a source text:

. . . What might I learn if I looked, myself—poet, folklorist, feminist—at the Grimms’ words? Plenty, as it turned out. The several discoveries I made more than surprised me; they unsettled me. They changed forever my vision of the tale. For example, All Kinds Of Fur calls herself “Kind” (“child”) as she hides from men in the woods; yet almost all translators use the female-identified term “girl.” I use “child,” though, to point out how All Kinds Of Fur purposefully un-sexes—and protects—herself through her choice of words. For similar reasons, I use the pronoun “it” to refer to All Kinds Of Fur when the text calls for the neuter pronoun. (Read my 2012 book chapter, here, for more details on the tale and its translation). . . .

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Philemon and Baucis


Here is one beautiful poem by David Sloan from his book, The Irresistible In-Between, (Deerbrook Editions, 2013).

David Sloan was at the MWPA Literary Awards ceremony and it is always a pleasure to see him. He has received a number of awards for poems in the Poetry Short Works category.

It being the solstice, I thought I’d pick this poem as, picking up his book yesterday, it opened to it. I was reminded how many good poems are in this book. Another deserving author with a good book.

 

Philemon and Baucis

The wonder isn’t the gods’ appearance,
nor their beggarly disguises. Zeus

and Hermes love the earth—olive oil,
gullible women, the substantiality of marble,

that peculiar human failing of caring
too much. It’s the old couple themselves,

the way they welcome the strangers,
give up their stools, offer them wine

and apricots, stoke the fire, how they touch
each other’s shoulders. They gasp

when the wineskins refill themselves.
In the sudden light they kneel

before their guests, gold peeking
from beneath the rags, feel the dizzying

closeness of divinity. When the gods
grant one wish to repay their hospitality,

the wonder is what the couple
passes up— a wooden floor, new cook

pot, lifetime supply of firewood,
fleece-lined cloaks, the child

they never conceived. Instead
they ask only not to outlive

one another. It’s the gods’ turn
to gape. When the time comes,

the couple feels the forest taking them.
Sap rises, fingers send out leaf shoots,

bark creeps up, closes over their mouths,
but not before Farewell love,

overheard by hushed birds and caught
in the cleaved air, linden and oak

now a single trunk, entwined.

Review of I, Emily Dickinson & Other Found poems


Review of I Emily Dickinson & Other Found Poems

I, Emily Dickinson & Other Found Poems, by J.R. Solonche, is an absolute delight. I have read it more than three times. To do it justice, I’d want to quote liberally from the many priceless jewels—entries found in books, newspapers, field guides, menus, things read in bathrooms, overheard in museums—but I’m certainly not going to do that.

Often the pleasure in the found poem lies in the ridicule it carries, the smug joy of the reader in the crazy obtuseness of the anonymous source. Here this is hardly the case. Even Donald Rumsfeld’s “Known knowns . . .” rises a bit above ridicule, it being probably the smartest thing he ever said.

The opening find is from the index of Dickinson’s collected poems (Johnson). It lists alphabetically the first lines of poems that begin with “I,” the first one being “I am afraid to own a body.” These entries are arranged in quatrains, ending with a couplet. One hundred and forty-two lines later we read, “I years had been from home.” This is more than a trick; it is something on the order of a portrait of Emily Dickinson.

The last entry in this wonderful collection lists vocabulary books on sale at Barnes & Noble, so the last line is “Word power made easy.” Perfect.

—Sally Fisher

                    Sally Fisher’s latest publication is Good Question, a book of poems from Bright Hill Press

The Differences


A poem from Won’t Be Long; poems short; poems shorter; poems shortest, by J.R. Solonche.

Michael Meyerhofer said about Won’t Be Long:  “Sweet Jesus, this is great stuff!”

The Differences

Hydra Endures


Here is a poem from the new book Where You Happen to Be by Leonore Hildebrandt.

In her new book Leonore Hildebrandt explores the power of place to inform, humble, and inspire our human experience. 

One author said this for the back cover: In Where You Happen to Be, Leonore Hildebrandt writes of “discern[ing] layers / of sound and scent,” of probing “the human dilemma / of purpose and failure.” The poems in this collection assume this task of recognition and discovery.  

Hydra Endures