April 9, 2021

Chosen Works Announced on April 12



The works for May will be announced on April 12. Once again, the competition is fierce. It would be great if we could afford more stories and poems!

April 8, 2021

Throwback Thursday: 4 Cinderella Films We Can Watch Over & Over, By Amanda Bergloff

Editor's Note: We here at Enchanted Conversation love fairy tale films, and this article from 2018 celebrates the heroine who can wear glass slippers in four films we can watch over and over!

Hi all! Not only does EC love reading fairy tales, but we also love the many films they inspire. So, we put the call out on Twitter for people to share some of their favorite fairy tale movies, and we want to thank everyone who responded!

This month, we're featuring live-action CINDERELLA FILMS based on the recommendations of:

The classic tale of the kind-hearted girl of the cinders, her fairy godmother, glass slippers, a ball, and a happily ever after has been adapted many times in both live-action and animated versions. 

So, here's four live-action flicks 
we can watch over and over...
Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998)
This adaptation of Cinderella treats the tale as historical fiction set in Renaissance-era France, and uniquely includes some real-life historical figures of the time.

After the death of her French nobleman father, Danielle de Barbarac (Drew Barrymore) is treated as a servant by her cold and unloving stepmother (Angelica Huston) and stepsisters. However, Danielle remains strong, kind, and resourceful, and the intellectual equal of any prince, including the philosophical Prince Henry (Dougray Scott.) 

In this story, the fairy godmother is replaced by artist/inventor Leonardo da Vinci (Patrick Godfrey) in Danielle's life. But, even though magic is replaced by science, isn't falling in love, in and of itself, magical?

And everything about this film is magical...

FILM CLIP
Contradictions
Cinderella (2015)
Inspired, in part, by Disney's animated classic, Cinderella, this live-action reimagining of the fairy tale stays true to the core of the story. 

Although this is not a musical, like its animated counterpart, it has all the characters you loved or loved-to-hate from the 1950 film: Ella (Lily James,) Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett,) Drisella (Sophie McShera) & Anastasia (Holliday Grainger,) the Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter,) the Prince (Richard Madden,) and of course, Jaq and Gus Gus, along with glass slippers, a pumpkin carriage, a magical ball, and the girl with the pure heart who gets her happily ever after.

This gorgeous production is pure fantasy fun. 
FILM CLIP
The Royal Ball
The Slipper and the Rose (1976)
Why is it that the story of Cinderella lends itself so well to musicals? This musical adaptation also has all the main story points of the fairy tale, with Cinderella (Gemma Craven) serving her stepmother and stepsisters, but this film also focuses on the prince's side of things.

In the kingdom of Euphrania, Prince Edward (Richard Chamberlain) must marry, but he wants to marry for love, not merely a political alliance to avoid war in the future. A bride-finding ball is organized, and after Cinderella's Fairy Godmother (Annette Crosbie) gets her ready with a new dress and a song, the Prince and Cinderella meet...and music fills the air.
FILM CLIP
Cinderella's Transformation
Rodgers & Hammerstein's
Cinderella (1997)
This made-for-TV movie musical broke viewership records when it debuted on The Wonderful World of Disney in 1997. So many girls grew up with this version of Cinderella on video, and it is still just straight up fun with it's memorable score by Rodgers and Hammerstein. 

Cinderella (Brandy Norwood,) works tirelessly for her cruel stepmother (Bernadette Peters) and stepsisters until her Fairy Godmother (Whitney Houston) sings the catchiest Fairy Godmother song ever in "Impossible/It's Possible," and helps Cinderella get to the Royal Ball, where the prince of her dreams will change her life.

Wonderful music and performances to remember. A magical film all the way around.
FILM CLIP
Impossible/It's Possible
What Cinderella films do you like? 
Leave a comment below!
Enchanted Conversation's contributing editor, Amanda Bergloff, writes modern fairy tales, folktales, and speculative fiction. Her work has appeared in various anthologies, including Frozen Fairy Tales, After the Happily Ever After, and Uncommon Pet Tales.
Follow her on Twitter @AmandaBergloff
Check out her Amazon Author page HERE
Also, join her every Tuesday on Twitter for #FairyTaleTuesday to share what you love about fairy tales, folktales, and myths.
If you’d like to see even more stories, poems, and articles in EC, please consider becoming a patron. We have cool rewards and every penny we receive goes to EC.
And check out
Enchanted Conversation's
and listen to the
Classical Music to Write Fairy Tales By
playlist for some writing inspiration!

April 6, 2021

I Offer You This Counter Curse, By Christine Butterworth-McDermott




Editor’s note: This poem’s mystery and imagery grabbed my attention and kept it. There’s so much to think about, and the poem keeps you in the land of enchantment long after you finish reading it.

 

Beautiful boy, with the limpid eyes, you blink:

Shh, I have a secret I cannot tell—how the witch 


cast a spell, put shards of mirror into my tongue. 

I can’t tell you how she did it to me. What it meant. 


Now, I am afraid my words would drop like toads, 

slither like snakes to the ground. I can’t open my mouth 


without filth spilling out.  The story hangs, knifesharp, 

your voice so low it barely registers. A growling animal, 


you jerk your head to look me eye to troubled eye. 

Beautiful boy, let me cradle you here near my heart. 


You are so young you cannot know I hold vats 

of watery whispers. I will not drown. I will not tell. 


Just speak here, in the bud of my ear. Tell me how—

I hid all my treasure, jewels sharp and pointed, I hid them


Let your lips move, push those diamonds through the wounds. 

Let sparkling shards tumble from your mouth—the truth, 


child, is as soft as tinsel. Let me gather it in my hands.


***

BIO: Christine Butterworth-McDermott is the author of the poetry chapbooks, Tales on Tales: Sestinas (2010) and All Breathing Heartbreak (2019) as well as the full-length collections, Woods & Water, Wolves & Women (2012) and Evelyn As (2019). Her poetry and fiction has been published in such journals as Alaska Quarterly Review, The Massachusetts Review, and River Styx, among others. She is the founder and co-editor of Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, an online magazine of speculative poetry and flash fiction, established in 2013. Learn more about her and see her gorgeous artwork here.


***
Altered image from Pixabay.

April 1, 2021

Throwback Thursday: Little Mermaid's Big Sister, By Jude Tulli

 

Editor's Note: This mermaid story by author, Jude Tulli, was the first winning entry for EC's January 2012 writing contest. Enjoy!
My little sister wrestles with killing her beloved prince, and that could be her undoing. Her other sisters and I bargained away our hair for one last chance to save her and brought her the sea witch's knife. We told her she could live if only she killed this one man. One man who does not love her as she deserves. We begged her to save herself.

She has legs to walk. She can do it easily. We have but flippers and fins and scaly tails beneath our bellies. But we shall try to finish it for her if (Adelaide says when) she fails.

There she is now. See how her knife hand trembles. It's just as her tail would waver against a tide pool back when she had sense enough still to have a tail.

She's thinking about it as she pulls back the curtain of the tent where he betrays her with another. Thinking as she hesitates of the nights they might have spent tangled up in laughter and caresses; of the mutant offspring she might have borne with him.

She puts the thoughts, lovely as they're sure to be, out of her naive little mind. Her hand grows steady as the waveless night. She holds the dagger up close to the sleeping prince's heart.

She is poised to break the sea witch's spell! Yet I dare not hope any harder; it is not in her to commit murder. Always a dreamer, she.

Throwing the knife overboard makes your point quite nicely, dear sister, but did you have to heave it so far and make it harder for us to protect you from yourself?!

I told the others we should have included Father; he swims far faster than we. Like lightning.

Even as a merling little sister preferred plankton to shrimp, any tide of the week. While the rest of us were busy breaking crab shells open with our teeth to suck the sweet meat out, she'd follow the whale families and catch their filthy spillovers.

The same barb schools that darted out of view from me (and rightfully so) would dance around her as if she was their teacher. I swear, a mermaid like her is worth far more to the world than any human prince.

I catch a cluster of red seaweed. It scratches my palm and seeps its burning salt into my hand as I hold the squiggly mass above my head to drip dry.

I drape it over my bald scalp and tie the longest tendrils around my waist as little sister does with her hair. My face looks much like hers though she was blessed with a better endowment than I. Still, the sea witch can't trifle over who does the dirty work, just so it gets done. Can she?

My little sister is so pure. Too pure.

I find the dagger first in the blood red water. We sisters agreed whomever found it would finish the story for our little mermaid the right way. The only way Father and the rest of us can endure.

I dive into the air and spin so my tail breaks my landing on the boat. It hurts but I've no time to entertain the throbbing now. I draw back the same curtain my sister parted. Though the dawn is rising, it is too dark inside to see.

"Prince," I lull, "If you're awake, I have a present for you, my dear. If you're asleep, all the better to deliver it."

"Dumb foundling? You can speak!"

It's working! He thinks I am she!

The ocean splash is sudden. Its foamy droplets extinguish the last fading embers of hope from my heart.

"No!" I jump in after her. The shock of my body against the water is but a distant shadow of the horror that has flooded my soul. The sense that I am trapped inside a nightmare from which I shall never wake drowns every drop of pain I should be feeling.

I am too late. The sharp knife falls to the ocean floor. Dear little sister would have worried it might hurt some poor unsuspecting creature. But I am far more concerned with the ill fate that has befallen her. Let it slash a shark or an angelfish or giant squid. Nothing matters now.

I look up through the water and the morning sun shimmers solemnly. My surviving sisters' tears appear silver in the golden light. I know what they're thinking, because I am thinking it too. Why couldn't the sea witch have accepted our offer to take us instead of the sweetest mermaid who ever delighted to situate shell-less hermit crabs?

A tear of my own trickles down my cheek and settles between my lips. I am too forlorn to care but the torturous tickle makes me lick and, licking, taste. Salty.

Salty like the sea foam; all that remains of the dearest, littlest mermaid I have ever loved.
Jude Tulli lives in the Sonoran Desert with his beloved wife Trish and a small pride of housecats. For quick links to his other works published with EC (including the recent Krampus anthology), his novelette Faegotten and more, you can visit him on Goodreads. 
Cover Painting: by John William Waterhouse
Cover Layout: Amanda Bergloff @AmandaBergloff

March 30, 2021

Window For This Month Closed

The window for submissions has closed. It opens again for three days in May 1.

***

Image by Kinuko Craft.

March 29, 2021

Book Review, By Kelly Jarvis: Cold Press Moon


Fairy tales are endlessly fascinating. Since the beginning of recorded history, storytellers, writers, and artists have taken the simple plots and characters of fairy tales and spun them into something new. Dennis Cooley takes his turn at transforming fairy tales by shaping them with lyrical language in his poetry anthology
cold press moon.  

The poems in the book are divided by tale type, moving from fairy tales like “Goldilocks” and “Snow White” into Gothic works like Frankenstein and Dracula. Within each division are several vignettes which pull readers into the dark settings of the stories where secrets reside. There are deep forests filled with mysteries and castles suspended in time. The moon features as a recurring image throughout the settings of the poems; it is “a lyric moon/ clear as acrylic” that “floats on a pan of dark water” in the “Hansel and Gretel” tale. The young men who are impaled on the thorns surrounding Sleeping Beauty’s castle are “torn open under the moon’s bright eye”, Mother Gothel “counts the moon” to chart the passage of time, and “a thin lemon of moon squeezes over” the sisters Snow White and Rose Red.   


Cooley adds to traditional fairy tales by focusing on characters whose voices are not often heard. There are plenty of monsters in these irreverent tales, but there is humor as well. In “The Frog and The Princess” section, the King and Queen engage in a silly argument over the merits of their daughter’s “new boyfriend,” debating whether he is a sweet “melted gumdrop” or a “blown-up leaf of spinach.” These lighthearted moments are punctuated by melancholy meditations, and Cooley is at his best when he features the voices of sad men who are caught in tales they have not chosen. His Rumpelstiltskin character, from the section titled “Gold Finger,” is madly in love with the miller’s daughter, and Sleeping Beauty’s prince, from the section titled “Two-Thirds of the Sun,” feels compelled to kiss the princess only because that is what his story expects. Cooley is tender and sympathetic to both male and female figures as he explores the gendered relationships of traditional tales. 


My favorite section, titled “The Lost Children,” is “Hansel and Gretel” re-telling described as “a story of waiting.” Cooley captures both the loneliness of the children who run beneath “stars spread like shrapnel in the frozen air” and the anguish of the father whose voice “sounds like corn ripped open” as he laments the loss of his own children and mourns for all lost children who are far from home. The father wonders about his own role in the story, contemplating whether he is a hero, donor, or villain, and questioning how Cooley, the poet turned character, will change the plot of his story. These metacognitive elements of the poems push readers to traverse the liminal space between the poet, the characters, and themselves. 


Cooley’s style is contemporary and experimental. Each section features a different form, but all the poems are united by his use of enjambment, internal rhyme, and stunning imagery. The poetry is complex, but Cooley’s love for playing with language and invoking famous stories is evident in phrases that reference “curds & why” and “the stings & eros of cupidinous fortune.” In his section titled “By the River Sticks,” ambrosia flows “in pizza and in barley suds,” crossing the barrier between the mythological and the everyday. The poems are a fun-filled feast of word play and intertextuality, and they leave the reader thinking about the stories that have shaped our history. 


Cooley’s poetry, which is easy to read but challenging to understand, ignites the imagination. Beneath every traditional tale is something more to be discovered, and Cooley’s poems seep with the magic of storytelling. This collection of poetry cast silvery shadows across the endlessly fascinating fairy tales that I love, making me reimagine the stories and the cold press moon that hovers above us all, in new, disturbing, and beautiful new ways.


***

Kelly Jarvis is EC’s Special Projects writer.

March 25, 2021

Throwback Thursday: The Little Mermaid Statue, the Dancing Mermaid & the Mori Girl, By Nora Stasio

 "The Little Mermaid," in Copenhagen, Denmark


Editor's note:
Nora Stasio, fairy tale news reporter, travels from Denmark to San Francisco to Japan in her exploration of mermaid and fairy tale influences in this column from 2013. I'm intrigued by the Mori and Hama girls from Japan, but haven't used any pictures for fear of stealing artist's images. But Nora is right, the images are really lovely. So go to the Google machine.

Denmark native Hans Christian Andersen has inspired artists of all kinds throughout his career as a master storyteller. His most famous tale is undoubtedly The Little Mermaid, whose heroine inspired one of Denmark’s most treasured and famous landmarks. August 23rd of 2013 marked the one hundredth anniversary of the Little Mermaid statue, which resides off the shores of Copenhagen, Denmark. 
 
In the early 1900s, Carl Jacobsen was a wealthy philanthropist with a great love of the arts. He took particular interest in a ballet version of The Little Mermaid produced by Copenhagen's Royal Theatre, which starred prima ballerina Ellen Price. Jacobsen commissioned Edvard Eriksen to create a statue of the mermaid in Price’s likeness. Upon hearing that she’d have to pose nude, Ellen declined the offer to model. Eriksen instead sculpted the body of his wife, Eline. She posed as the lovesick young mermaid, sitting atop a rock and looking longingly out at the sea. Eriksen then sculpted Price’s head atop his wife’s body, and the mermaid was completed. 

The statue was unveiled to the public on August 23, 1913, 100 years ago. She has survived multiple acts of vandalism and was once even transported to Shanghai, China, for Expo 2010, a grandiose world fair event. She has had to be repaired and retouched several times, but she stands (sits, actually) today at her original spot on the rocky shore, and hopefully will continue to dwell there for another 100 years.

If the idea of a mermaid ballet intrigues you, you’ll want to check out the San Francisco Ballet’s production of The Little Mermaid from 2010. John Neumeier’s adaptation of Andersen’s tale was covered as part of PBS’s Great Performances program, and the entire production is available to view through the PBS website!

Neumeier’s ballet is entirely different from the one that captivated Carl Jacobsen a century ago, but it’s similarly received a great deal of acclaim. The two-act production has a score by Lera Auerbach, a Russian-born American woman (it’s always nice to hear about female composers). John Neumeier, a Milwaukee native, designed the sets, costumes, and lighting, and choreographed the entire show all by himself. His version of the show is said to play up the intense emotional struggles of the characters in a dazzling new way.

Yuan Yuan Tan’s performance as the Mermaid has been praised by many critics for its delicate grace. In this version of the story, the evil sea witch is played by a male dancer. There’s even a dancer portraying Andersen himself, making an appearance at the beginning of the show. In the playbill, this character is referred to as ‘The Poet,’ and his actions set the plot in motion. See it for yourself at www.pbs.org.

People all over the world get inspiration from fairy tales, probably because they seem to somehow touch us all deep inside, and speak to us in a universal language. Here’s an interesting question for you: How does being a lover of fairy tales affect your everyday life? 

Does your love of fantasy have any impact on your personal wardrobe? If you said yes, then you’re not alone. In fact, there are quite a few Japanese fashion “subcultures” that might interest you. The “Mori Girl” trend is probably my favorite, and sadly, it isn’t very well known here in the states.

“Mori Girl” is a fashion movement that started in Japan, much like how “Punk” has its roots in the UK. (Editor's note: Elderly rock fans like myself see punk as more of a transatlantic movement--and let's not forget the Aussies.) “Mori” is Japanese for “forest." The clothes of the Mori Girl reflect the natural and serene beauty of the woods, emphasizing loose and flowy garments in earthy tones. She is a nymph-like creature, living among the trees, always looking youthful, pure, and very modest, wearing brown knits, cream-colored cottons, and floral headbands. Antique lace, seed pearls, key-shaped jewelry, and vintage pieces are often incorporated into this look. Picture Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden, preening the rose bushes, wearing brown tights and a lacy-collared dress.

This is a movement rooted deeply in old-world European aesthetics, like the designs found in classic fairy-tale storybooks. Mori Girls have been known to look through such books for their fashion inspirations. 

The newest trend in Japan these days is an extension of the “Mori Girl” movement, known as “Hama Girl." The Hama Girl draws her inspiration from the ocean, with all of its lore and mystique. “Hama” means “sea," after all. Hama Girls often don pale summer dresses and crocheted vests, and pose on the beach with seashells in hand. Such images always make me think of Andersen’s young mermaid, exploring the beach, having just been transformed into a human. 

Anyone interested in these subcultures should search through Tumblr using Hama or Mori Girl as tags. You might find an interesting new way to add a bit of fairy tale flavor to your everyday life. Happy Discoveries!

Nora Stasio has been a lover of creative writing and fairy tales for her entire life. She graduated Cum Laude from Rutgers where she completed a minor in English with a focus in Creative Writing and Shakespeare. 

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