I’m surprised to find, in writing the poem, that girl, mother, and flower coexist in the imagination alongside an innocence I thought lost, beside a self I thought irreparably fractured. Thumbelina: Innocence Found (Feral Mom, Feral Writer)
Today’s prompts are based on the poem Thumbelina, originally published by The NonBinary Review in Issue #1, Grimm’s Fairytales (available as a free
Zoetic Press app on iTunes and forthcoming in November Butterfly, Saddle Road Press). The poem speaks from the point of view of Thumbelina addressing her mother, questioning the riddle of their shared fate.
- Read a version of the original Hans Christian Andersen Thumbelina here at East of the web. Make a list of all of the characters, peripheral as well as central. Write a poem from the point of view of the Toad mother, Toad son, cockchafer, field mouse, butterfly tethered to leaf, swallow in the tunnel, or any other character appearing in the poem.
- Thumbelina ushers us into the world of miniatures. What if she were instead a giantess (think Gulliver’s Travels, female protagonist)? Set your Giantess down in a world of your own making.
- Read Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Stories (available free on Gutenborg.org books), set in the American Midwest, featuring such characters as Potato Face Blind Man, corn fairies and more. Written for his daughters, Sandburg’s tales reverberate with sound play equal to A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas. While Thomas follows a narrative sequence, Sandburg often has no direct path to or from, but seems to delight in the turn of the phrase on the way to just about anywhere in the tale. Take a physical setting from your childhood and describe it once with Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale eyes (or Grimm’s) and once with Carl Sandburg eyes.
- Watch the video for Thumbelina (photos by Robyn Beattie, Mort Garson’s Taurus, The Voluptuary music adapted and performed by Stephen Pryputniewicz). You’ll find stills representing bondage and stills representing freedom from the interior of Thumbelina’s experience. Find images to represent these states for the character you have chosen to write about or make a list of opposing states and seek to illustrate them with your own photographs or images.
Write for at least twenty minutes without censor and share your exercise or any thoughts about your writing process in comments below. Or add links for us to visit along any topic line inspired by the exercise.
Carl Sandburg and The Rootabaga Series: When Nonsense Prevails at the Huffington Post (thanks goes to Liz Brennan for introducing the Rootabaga Stories to my children).
How Hans Christian Anderson Revolutionized Storytelling Plus the Best Illustrations from 150 Years of the Beloved Fairytales. At Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings. Features visual depictions of Thumbelina, The Snow Queen, the Nightingale, The Little Mermaid and more. Be sure to scroll all the way to the end to see the variety depending on illustrators from Kay Nielsen to Maurice Sendak to Takeo Takei.
Thumbelina grows up by Jenny Rossi (short prose poem).
Thumbelina board on Pinterest.
A Child’s Christmas in Wales up at The Telegraph travel site.
2014 is the centenary of the birth of Dylan Thomas; here’s a link to the creative mission statement for a site dedicated to coordinating worldwide celebrations for Dylan Thomas.