cover image A Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects

A Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects

Catherynne M. Valente, . . Norilana/Curiosities, $22.95 (168pp) ISBN 978-1-934648-34-6

Structured around a series of folktale motifs, Valente's eloquent second full-length poetry collection dissects the perceived roles of women in Earth's and otherworldly fable and myth. One prevailing theme is women's subjugation by tradition and ritual in male-dominated societies, as in “How Comes This Blood Upon the Key?” wherein a wife imprisoned in her own home protests: “I did not look/ for a house to become my limbs,/ for cast iron pans to become my joints,/ for doors and keys to become/ the stuff of my blood,/ for a bed to become my face.” The young title character in “The Child Bride of the Lost City of Ubar” is ruthlessly and needlessly sacrificed, and in “Glass, Blood, and Ash,” a woman's dream of falling in love with a prince is shattered by harsh reality. Fans of Valente's Orphan's Tales duology will find this collection similarly embittered, enlightening and enthralling. (Apr.)