Folk, Fairy, and Other Tales

When I was a kid in Central America, Fairy Tales were everywhere. These fairy tales were illustrated, animated, abridged, on lunch boxes, on records, and so on.

The Spanish versions of fairy tales were gorier than the English fairy tales I read later on when I moved to Canada. In one Spanish language version of Cinderella, the stepsisters go to drastic steps to convince the prince they are the chosen one. One sister amputates her toes, while the other shaves off a part of her heel to fit into the glass slipper! Thinking back on it, those gruesome Spanish fairy tales reflected the civil wars that affected Central America in the 1970s.

The re-telling of fairy and folk tales is not new. Feminist interpretations of classic stories are not new either. Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber was published almost thirty years ago. And Room of One’s Own published two issues examining fairy tales in 1994. In each re-telling, we learn about each society’s cultural framework.

In this issue I was interested in Canadian women writers’ interpretation of folk, classic, and fairy tales. What do these re-told fairy tales tell us about Canadian women in 2008?

Kate Jenk’s poem “Entering the Forest” is a re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood. While this character also disobeys instructions like the original little red, she is not a helpless victim. Rather, Jenk’s Little Red Riding Hood lives amid haunting imagery, well aware that she must be ruthless at times.

This issue also contains an interview with Canada’s most renowned ballerina, Evelyn Hart. Hart considers how fairy tales are interpreted through dance. She points out that our current reality is so different from the day when those stories were written. Our conception of love, for instance, is new, and “this is why we want to rewrite fairytales today, to make them coincide with our changed view of happiness and how to attain it. We’re open to so many more possibilities today that [fairy tales] need to be rewritten.”

I was also interested in new stories by Canadian women that were in a way modern folk tales. I included a number of stories and poems that do not directly reference classic fairy tales— stones such as Martha Amore’s “Half-Hitch” and poetry such as Jamella Hagen’s “Stories of My Mother.” Hagen recently commented that her four-poem collection builds her family’s mythology. I wonderdid all fairy and folk tales all start as family mythologies?



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