Sunday, March 8, 2015

Any Other Where - Fairytales and Muses

“How gloriously the sun doth shine, How lovely is the air. I'd rather rest on my true love's breastThan any other where.”

Whenever I inch into reading about fairytales/folklore I have to pull back for fear of going so far into it I might never come out. When I was a child one of the coveted books in our house was a book of fairytales. It had a yellow cloth cover and - I might be making this bit up - gold-tipped pages.

This week was a week for listening to Shirley Collins (actually most weeks are). I finally read Margo Lanagan's Sea Hearts: we read the first little bit in class - and I finished, appropriately, in a tent by the sea, with my son sleeping beside me, and a crick in my neck and my eyes like two things that needed to be taken out and rinsed. I loved it. It made me feel so heavy-hearted but in that good way, like it was proof I was awake (I am trying hard not to sleepwalk through life). I've read lots of good books this year, but reading Sea Hearts was like going to another world.

I then read this in Elizabeth Cook's The Ordinary and The Fabulous: "J.R.R Tolkien sees {fairytales} as works of 'sub-creation': in reading them we live in a Secondary World which is internally consistant and intricate, and is related to the Primary World (in which we all live for most of the time) by the human prerogative of generalization and abstraction ... The Secondary World of myth and fairytale is a world of fighting, of sudden reversals of fortune, of promises kept and broken, of commands obeyed and disobeyed, of wanderings and quests, of testing and judgement, gratitude and ingratitude, and light and darkness."

My other discovery in this area is the work of Helen Adam - I hadn't read her before although she's part of the San Francisco Renaissance I've been reading about since my 2012 trip. That's one of Helen Adam's collages above. I read this primer essay about her by Kristen Prevallet and shared the short ballad poems in class. (My favourite is #2)

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