Happy Poetry Friday! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? Click here.)
This week, I’m celebrating The Wolf Hour, by Sara Lewis Holmes! It’s a menacing and delightful fairy-tale mash-up that feels as much poetry as novel to me. Sara is the author of Letters from Rapunzel and Operation Yes as well as sophisticated, gorgeous poems each month with the Poetry Princesses. I am not a huge reader of middle grade novels, fantasy, or fairy tales. (So far, this isn’t sounding like a good match, is it?) But The Wolf Hour is dramatic and dark and poetic, and it reached out and clawed at my heart. One thing I loved is that this novel is steeped in poetry, although there aren’t any actual poems in it. So I asked Sara if we could celebrate the poetic elements of this beautiful novel for Poetry Friday. Luckily, she said yes:>) If you appreciate poetry, I think Sara’s answers will enchant you.
Laura: Did you make a conscious choice to use poetic elements in The Wolf Hour, or is the world of fairy tales and fantasy inherently poetic so that your writing just “came out” that way? (Don’t you like the way I make that sound so simple?)
Laura: In novels (unlike some other forms), I read more for Story than for Language, and when language obscures (or weighs down) the story, that’s when I stop reading. But you pruned skillfully, because you created a dangerous, violent, nerve-wracking story while still using phrases that made me pause to soak them up before racing forward. “In the darkness, [the spiders’] swift and silent bodies wove blankets for her family, while outside, the sun and birds, nature’s timekeepers, circled a world that never touched those she loved.” Delicious. If the story didn’t have such wonderful grotesqueness to it, would I have lost patience with the beautiful language? Any thoughts?
Sara: I think you might have lost patience, yes. Beautiful language can be vapid if the reader senses you’re trying to gloss over things or hide behind words. But…if language is paired with very real danger and the inevitable violence that is the hard truth of our world…then I think you get away with it. Same with a driving plot and slower description. They don’t so much balance each other out as vibrate off each other, enlarging what it’s possible for us to hear. The truth is that we live and die; we eat and are eaten; we are grotesque beasts AND beautiful souls. Fairy tales remind us of that.
Sara: Oh. I love that it brought you to tears, because I cried on Martin’s behalf often. He was so alone and so hurt for much of the book, and I wanted better for him. I’d have to look back at my drafts to be sure, but I think this repeated phrase was there from the beginning. But once I’d written it, I knew it would come back. This phrase was the key to Martin’s need, his reason for continuing to engage with the world even as it was determined to hurt him.
Laura: It’s your Tim Gunn moment! Next up: “Paperwhites, tightly budded, stretched like veins from the heart of the wood…” So gothic! What guided your use of simile and metaphor in this book?
people as possible–even non-fantasy readers like me:>)
- Sara and fellow Poetry Princess Tanita Davis chat at Finding Wonderland
- Charlotte at Charlotte’s Library selects quotations from the book for Sara to respond to
- Maureen at By Singing Light reviews the book
And for lots of wonderful poetry, don’t miss the Poetry Friday Roundup with Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales! Honestly, how’s that for a fitting roundup host when we’re talking poetry and fairy tales?