Poisoned Apples - Christine Heppermann

Not only am I a fan of feminist retellings of fairy tales, but when these tales are brought into a contemporary context, looking at gender equality, eating disorders, body image, and other such (sadly) relevant themes, I can't help but get sucked in.

The Woods
The action's always there.
Where are the fairy tales about gym class
or the doctor's office or the back of the bus
where bad things also happen?
Pigs can buy cheap building materials
just as easily in the suburbs.
Wolves stage invasions. Girls spit out
cereal, break chairs, and curl beneath
covers like pill bugs or selfish grannies
avoiding the mess.
No need for a bunch of trees.
You can lose your way anywhere.

While I understand that not everyone is a fan of poetry (and I often find myself wondering about the genre at times), the topics being examined in these poems overshadow quibbles I might have with the art form on a larger scale. As E. Lockhart states in her cover blurb, these poems are "a bloody . . . attack on the beauty myth that's caustic, funny, and heartbreaking." I can't disagree. Each poem attempts to break down myths of what we consider to be beautiful in today's troubled society, in an era defined by thinness and photoshop. This is a much needed addition to the canon of literature smashing at the walls of the beauty industry.

Blow Your House In
She used to be a house of bricks,
point guard on the JV team, walling out
defenders who could only huff and puff
and watch the layups roll in.

She traded for a house of sticks,
kindling in Converse high-tops and a red Adidas tent.
At lunch she swirled a teeny spoon in yogurt
that never touched her lips and said
she'd decided to quit chasing a stupid ball.

Now she's building herself out of straw
as light as the needle swimming in her bathroom scale.
The smaller the number, the closer to gold,
the tighter her face, afire with the zeal of a wolf
who has one house left to destroy.

In this review you are seeing merely two examples of the power locked inside Heppermann's poetry. This is an important collection that deserves a lot of attention. As I received an e-copy of this piece, the incorporation of photography and other complementary artwork was not set up in such a way that I can properly see how well integrated it is. The images that I see are stunning and I hope that in the physical copy they will help to enhance the words of the corresponding poems.


(Note: This review if from an Advance Reading Copy - Out September 23, 2014)


  1. So can someone give me a an analysis on a bit of a deeper level on christines poem "The Woods" ?


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