Poetry is like wine to me. I enjoy it occasionally but I don’t have enough knowledge or experience to write elaborate tasting notes.
Like wine, I enjoy poetry on a more intangible level, the only difference is that of course, I am not more likely to go to bed with you if we end up reading poetry for the whole evening.
Therefore, I won’t write a proper review of Anne Sexton’s Transformations. But even Kurt Vonnegut Jr didn’t write anything sensible in his foreword to this edition.
‘Transformations’ are poetic retellings of Grimm’s tales. This world is more than familiar to me. I used to live in their tales when I was a child. I read them over and over again and this was a nice way to revisit the world of my childhood.
In Anne Sexton’s versions of the famous fairy tales they all live creepily ever after. She doesn’t change a thing, she just changes the lightning which makes everything a little bit more grotesque, and we realize that regardless to what our parents had us believe it wasn’t always good that won. Sometimes the good lost.
“Red Riding Hood” opens with Sexton’s musings on deceivers and pretenders. Like a wolf dressed as a grandmother we all sometimes put our more benign face on when facing the world:
"And I. I too.
Quite collected at cocktail parties,
meanwhile in my head
I’m undergoing open-heart surgery.
The heart, poor fellow,
pounding on his little tin drum
with a faint death beat.
The heart, that eyeless bettle,
enormous that Kafka beetle,
running panicked through his maze,
never stopping one foot after the other
one hour after the other
until he gags on an apple
and it’s all over."