Unexplained Fevers, by Jeannine Hall Gailey (New Binary Press 2013ISBN 978-0-95744661-2-8, $12.00)
Jeannine Hall Gailey is (still) the Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington, USA and the author of two other poetry collections—Becoming the Villainess and She Returns to the Floating World. She has won several awards, and her poetry has appeared in journals such as The Iowa Review, American Poetry Review, and Prairie Schooner. Her work has been featured on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily and in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. She volunteers as an editorial consultant for Crab Creek Review and currently teaches part-time at the MFA program at National University.
This is a collection about the “heroines” of Fairy Tale, Myth and other stories of the Collective Consciousness. I put quotes around heroines because they often aren’t in Gailey’s poetry. She makes them real people, with foibles and flaws. Taking familiar characters and giving them a back story or spinning the story along after the “happily ever after” of the conventional/original (or Disney version!) is a popular theme among poets. I’ve reviewed two such collections here on Amazing Stories (“Out of the Black Forest” by F. J. Bergmann and “Villains and Heroes” by Mary Turzillo) and you’ll see it in a lot of the poetry published in online magazines and journals. These stories, characters, and morals are so pervasive to our society that I think most of us fail to think much about them. That is where modern poets (and writers of prose) come in. They re-imagine and extrapolate on these stories and open our minds to new aspects of culture-defining myths; they shed new light on a story by retelling it from the point of view of a “minor” character, or they simply turn it on its head.
Unexplained Fevers brings Snow White, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty and others into the present day and/or the real world, making them get MRI’s, buy cars, and putting their images in glossy magazines. And it’s usually not happy or pleasant. The poems in this collection are often disturbing and dark. They help us consider how much of the darker side of life we are responsible for creating and then ignoring. Or merely paying no heed. This is our fate—is there anything we can do about it? So we go along for the ride. Jeannine Hall Gailey’s characters feel real, like they could be us or someone we know. They speak with my (North American) voice. The emotional content is brought home by this combination of the real and the make-believe.
Please enjoy the following readings of poems from “Unexplained Fevers”
“A True Princess Bruises ”
“I Like the Quiet: Snow White”
“Sure, Beauty Sleeps”
“The Knight Wonders What, Exactly, He Rescued”
“Red Riding Hood at the Car Dealer”