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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Inspiration- Fairytales

  Most of my work, imagination, life, poetry, dreams and desires stem from fairytales. I don't mean the "happily ever after" bit, but the other-worldliness. As a child it was often easier to daydream about being somewhere else, making friends with the forest animals, dreaming of faeries, and making-up names for the flowers because I never quite felt like I belonged anywhere. I also grew up in the country, so my childhood memories are mostly dominated by the outdoors.
  Unfortunately, I had many struggles learning to read because of early hearing loss and lack of phonic processing. It took a long time for me to appreciate the escape books provide, which means that I still treasure being read to, but once I did I was voracious. I discovered many stories in my teens and college years that most people discover as a child. I went on to get my degree in English Literature because of my love for books, escaping, discovering the little secrets inside and creating a whole new landscape for which to rediscover my childhood.
   I wanted to share with you my favorite fairytales that inspire my work and my life. Keep in mind that while I was first introduced to the Disney version of most of these tales, I am largely inspired by the gory originals, cross-cultural variations and modern satires.

1. Bambi- This was my generation's first experience with life and death. I learned that tragedy has no preference. It also opened my sensitivity for all things furry and started me off as I an avid animal enthusiast and advocate early on. Growing up in the country also meant that deer, skunks, rabbits, owls and all manner of forest creatures were a part of every day. I quote the movie to the kids I nanny all the time and they look at me clueless. I see this as regrettable but likely inevitable.

2. Snow White- Most kids these days are not aquainted with even the tame version of this story let alone the harrowing original, but it was not the horror I identified with as a child. I really just wanted to be friends with the animals. I wanted to sing and have the birds sing with me. I wanted the little forest people represented as the Seven Dwarfs to come out of the woods and reveal themselves to me. I used to think I would love to grow up and live in a secluded wood.

3. Jungle Book- I would have given anything to be raised by a pack of wolves as a kid. I used to think I might grow up to study wolf behavior, so "Big Bad Wolf" stories didn't really appeal to me. Mowgli was another one who could commune with the animals and seemed so in-tune with nature. I had a deep sense of desire that if I tried hard enough I could grow up to be just like him.

4. Cinderella- I know what the feminists say about this story, but I don't care. As a true American, I loved stories where the underdog won in the end. I could also identify with her brand of outcast as a black-sheep in a seemingly stable home. Again, it was all about the animals for me. I always found cruelty in trapping and poisoning mice as a kid, so being friends with them seemed ideal. I even dressed up as Cindy for Halloween one year.

5. Fern Gully- This doesn't really count as a classic fairytale, but it is based on the traditions of faeries and other wee folks. When I was little I really wanted to believe in faeries. I grew up in a secular household, so having faith in faeries, shooting stars and garden gnomes was a close to having faith in the unknown as I knew how to get. Not to mention that these little Rainforest pixies were fighting for the environment! I couldn't imagine anything more cool than that.

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