Poetry Friday: Choose Your Own Adventure

h1 June 13th, 2008 by jules

Yes, you get choices today for this Poetry Friday entry, and that would be because I had Poetry Friday plans and then kind, thoughtful Alkelda came along and stood them on their head.

Your first option today is a more traditional Poetry Friday entry — an actual poem, that is, though it’s hardly reverent in nature. Your second option is a more non-traditional entry: Song lyrics and a performance.

Or you can go with both options. I happen to like them both myself.

Option A

My girls and I read Perrault’s Cinderella yesterday. The four-year-old listened attentively and all wide-eyed (the two-and-a-half-year old jumped around like a monkey on crack, as usual, after about two minutes of the story, but this is to be expected). I was reminded, after reading it, of my old and tattered copy of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes, so I pulled it off the shelf in honor of the recent post on “demented” stories that Adrienne and I did. Dahl’s version of Cinderella is the first poem in this anthology.

Whoa. I had read these before — but a long time ago. This is far from your feel-good Cinderella (hence, my goofy image at the top of this post). This is some seriously offbeat stuff. Beheadings. The Prince calling Cindy a “dirty slut.” And the ending? She chooses a “simple jam-maker by trade / Who sold good homemade marmalade” instead.

Good goin’, Cindy. Always good to marry one talented with baking (and the one who, uh, doesn’t call you names). Even better than royalty, I say. Not to mention, Dahl’s prince is choppin’ off heads, leftrightandcenter.

Here’s the first stanza below. The poem can be read in its entirety here.

I guess you think you know this story.
You don’t. The real one’s much more gory.
The phoney one, the one you know,
Was cooked up years and years ago,
And made to sound all soft and sappy
just to keep the children happy.
Mind you, they got the first bit right,
The bit where, in the dead of night,
The Ugly Sisters, jewels and all,
Departed for the Palace Ball,
While darling little Cinderella
Was locked up in a slimy cellar,
Where rats who wanted things to eat,
Began to nibble at her feet.

Option B

If you visit our kicks posts on Sundays, you know I’m a hopeless (verging on annoying) fan of Sam Phillips’ music. I’ve followed her career closely for about twenty years now, and she’s my absolute favorite musician. Notice I said “verging on annoying” there; it’s a great time to be a Sam fan right now, since she just released a new CD, and so I’m even starting to irritate myself talking about it. I’ll try to keep this brief.

Alkelda saw Sam perform at a Borders bookstore in Redmond, Washington, on Wednesday evening and lined up some surprises for me, including filming two of Sam’s songs. ‘Cause she’s that considerate. Anyway, in the past, I’ve talked myself out of MANY a Poetry Friday post in which I post (and ask for discussion) on various and sundry Sam lyrics (again, I can be an annoying fan), but I’m going to post this performance Alkelda caught, ’cause a). it’s timely — this was just this week, and b). this is one of my favorite songs of hers. These are Sam’s lyrics—her capacity for true poetry—at their best. She knows how to be irreverent and witty and sly and also how to rock it (think Tom Waits meets Kurt Weill meets The Beatles). But this is Sam Melody and Sam Lyrics at their most beautiful: “Now that I’ve worn out / I’ve worn out the world / I’m on my knees in fascination / Looking through the night / And the moon’s never seen me before / But I’m reflecting light.” This one’s all about how, as she puts it further, loss can open windows, how a dark heart can light up the skies. And my favorite bit of poetry from this song?

Give up the ground
Under your feet
Hold on to nothing for good
Turn and run at the mean dogs
Chasing you
Stand alone and misunderstood

Here’s the performance — and with Eric Gorfain from The Section Quartet on a Stroh violin (or violinophone). If anyone watches it, there is much discussion at the beginning (about “Die Hard 3,” of all things), but the music is at approximately 3:10ish. Thanks again to Alkelda, who says she now has a new appreciation for good camera-people.

Today’s Poetry Friday round-up is at a wrung sponge. Enjoy!

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11 comments to “Poetry Friday: Choose Your Own Adventure”

  1. Ooh, I’m swooning over the Sam video. Great job, Alkelda! And what a fabulous song. Sing Sam’s praises all you want, Jules. And of course, Dahl has always been a big favorite and influence with me. Good adventures today!


  2. I read the Dahl poem and realized it was too early in the morning for me to read about rats and heads being chopped off. I need my coffee! I’m glad Cinderella ended up with a jam-man, though. You can’t go wrong with jam (eating it, that is– cooking it is another story).

    I’m glad you liked the Sam footage!


  3. Alkelda, yes, maybe I should have given a gore-warning (based on the number of responses here today, yes, I should have. Hee.) Anyway, isn’t it wild? There are more. Oh, there are more revolting rhymes in this book.

    Leave it to Dahl.

    And, yes, Jama — Isn’t Alkelda’s footage great? How kind of her to suffer arm pain just so nerdy fans like me can appreciate this West-Coast bookstore-tour. BUT, Sam’ll be touring in the fall with a full band, I think, in venues that are not bookstores, as I understand it.


  4. Well, “soft and sappy” doesn’t make this child happy, so thanks for the shot of Dahl!

    And I do love that Sam video. She seems so at ease reflecting light, doesn’t she?


  5. I had forgotten all about Revolting Rhymes! I think my classroom copy disintegrated 10 years ago. Now I’m thinking we need a replacement!! Thanks for the reminder!

    And thanks for a taste of this Sam Phillips we’ve heard so much about — something new and very fun!


  6. My son and I just finished reading Roald Dahl’s, The Twits. Whenever I read a Roald Dahl book I find myself wondering what was wrong with Roald Dahl that he wrote things like this?? Bizarre man…but kids sure love him (then again, they also love candy before breakfast….and that’s not so good)….gotta wonder about Roald Dahl. :0)


  7. Okay, I’m picking Option A. But only because I don’t know who Sam Phillips is. I am so square 🙂

    Still, it’s nice of Alkelda to have taped this for you.

    And, thanks for the funny Cinderella picture at the top of your post. It made me smile 🙂


  8. I read the poem and watched the video. My BFF keeps telling me I am an overachiever. She may be right. They were both worth the time, though.

    Still, my favorite is Cinderella and the prince with the NO symbol.


  9. I like Anne Sexton’s Cinderella still better than Dahl’s. And I just re-read Dahl’s two days ago, in case I could use something from the book for my middle grade presentation. But they were all a bit too long (and sometimes a bit too inappropriate) for sharing in the school setting, at least for 7th graders.


  10. I hear ya, Adrienne, on occasional overachiever-itis, which is often a curse. This post from Thursday was just supposed to be about TWO books, and you can see where it ended up.

    Yeah, Kelly, I can see how some of the poems would be inappropriate, even for older middle schoolers. They’re truly demented.


  11. Even though Roald Dahl IS demented and wildly inappropriate at times, I do like his REVOLTING RHYMES. Definitely something to put into a high school library and let kids discover on their own — and snicker over. I do agree that Anne Sexton’s is awesome! And I have to say I’m developing a taste for Sam Phillips!!


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