A review of Margaret Yocom KIN S FUR (Deerbrook Editions, 2018)
By Derek Newman-Stille
Margaret Yocom was the person who first introduced me to erasure poetry, so I am extremely excited that her erasure poem KIN S FUR has been published. KIN S FUR transforms the fairy tale All Kinds of Fur, revealing the voice of the daughter between the lines, in that interstitial space where ideas are formed. Yocom sorts through words, sifting them until she finds the silenced voice within the fairy tale.
Fairy tales have power and part of their power is their ability to adapt, to transform, to shift and change, and Yocom combines the metamorphosing power of these tales with the transformative quality of erasure poetry. Yocom searches through the fairy tale All Kinds of Fur to find what is left unspoken and devoiced and she finds that voice at the margins, hidden within the words fo the fairy tale and pulls these words to the surface, casting her own spell of discovery over the text.
Yocom brings up the voices of women, highlighting words like wife, daughter, mother, she, and her, focussing the reader’s attention on the role of women and their significance to fairy tales (even ones like All Kinds of Fur where female characters remain unspoken). Yocom proves that even the seemingly silent speaks and that sometimes the oppressed speak their strongest through silence.
The Snow Queen’s son
paints frost on the windows,
ferns that speak of his love of summer,
sketching a world he can no longer belong to.
the shard of ice from his heart,
blue with blood,
touching it to the window pane
and tracing his art onto the window,
wanting to hide the interior of a warm home
too reminiscent of his loss
a reminder of his exile.
He blows the snow
back and forth
knowing that any of his art
He buries everything in snow
wanting to bury himself,
the grass and weeds and flowers
hidden from his own sight
He is shaped by the cold,
shaping it in turn,
building on the cold by wanting to taste the warmth
every kiss on the face of warm lives
leaves a bitter chill,
vampirically consumes the heat
but leaves nothing of it in his body.
Leaving him hungry
like the wind is hungry
like the snow is hungry
like the ice is hungry
leaving emptiness inside of each flake.
The Snow Queen’s son
sees in mirrored gaze
and never complete
so he only sees himself
Through the Twisted Woods interviews folklore scholar, poet, and specialist in women’s folklore Margaret Yocom. Dr. Yocom took time out of her busy schedule at the American Folklore Society Conference to talk to us about feminist folklore studies, searching for women’s voices in fairy tales where female characters are silenced, and her work on the fairy tale All Kinds of Fur both as a scholar and as a poet since these roles are interlinked and scholarly insights can be gained through the process of creative writing. Dr. Yocum discusses the power of erasure poetry to find powerful messages.
Dr. Yocom has been kind enough to provide us with some example pages from her erasure poem “Kin s Fur” below.
Explore our interview with Margaret Yocom at the link below
Two of our founders, Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman, have a new poem out in Liminality! Liminality highlights voices and stories that are betwixt and between, and we highly recommend their back issues, as well as the current issue.
Our poem, “Waking,” combines two well-known fairy tales, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, to craft a new tale about rejecting old stories and forging new paths. It’s self-consciously feminist, but upon re-reading, I found myself thinking about non-normative states and sleeping, about the generative possibilities of dreaming across bodies and borders…