09 September 2015

Historical [Re]tell: Panel at the Steel Pen Writers' Conference

On Saturday, October 10, I will be joining writers Laura Madeline Wiseman, Cat Dixon, Britny Doane, and P. Ivan Young at the Steel Pen Writers' Conference in Merrillville, Indiana to present a panel called "Historical [Re]tell: The Writing and Craft of Telling Retellings of the Historic." This is an area of poetry-writing that has been my focus for a long time now, so I'm very proud and excited that Madeline invited to me to be part of this event. Although I don't usually dabble in the historical, my poetic focus has primarily been retellings of folk and fairy tales. I've even branched out recently to other retellings of well-known, more contemporary fictional stories, like The Wizard of Oz and (most recently) The Silence of the Lambs.

To prep for this panel (my first!), I am currently rereading and highlighting the hell out of Twice Upon a Time: Women Writers and the History of the Fairy Tale, by Elizabeth Wanning Harries. Since I'll be talking on the panel about retelling primarily from the fairy-tale perspective, this book is the perfect resource for studying up and organizing my thoughts on the subject. The tradition of retelling has even deeper significance for fairy tales and their tellers because of how closely it is intertwined with the history of these kinds of stories in particular:  
      Like [A.S.] Byatt and [Angela] Carter, many other late-twentieth-century writers have returned to the fairy tale, mined its imagery, questioned its usual pieties. Most of them, consciously or not, have produced versions that do not hark back to the strategies of writers like Perrault and the Grimms; their tales are not ‘distressed’ to seem ancient, timeless, or in some way authentic. Rather, they draw on the ‘other tradition’ of the fairy tale… Writers as different as Donald Barthelme, Robert Coover, Jeanette Winterson, Margaret Atwood, Monique Wittig, Caryl Churchill—writers I could have included here—all have chosen fairy-tale plots and recurring motifs as the ground for variation, experimentation, and transformation. They present their tales as versions of versions, framing them in new ways, transliterating their language and images into new constellations.” (Harries, p. 160-1, emphasis mine)

Today, an interview with panel-leader Laura Madeline Wiseman about "Historical [Re]tell" has been published at Cahoodaloodaling. You can get a sense there of what we'll be talking about on the panel, as well as follow some links to new historical retell poetry by the panelists (including some of mine). Madeline is currently guest-editing this journal's eighteenth issue, which is also themed "Historical [Re]tell." You still have until September 19 to submit!

I am so looking forward to this panel discussion next month. If you are in Indiana or nearby, please consider coming out to the Steel Pen Writers' Conference in Merrillville to support us!


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