Becoming the Villainess
by Jeannine Hall Gailey
- Two poems from Becoming the Villainess have been
featured on the NPR show, The Writer's Almanac. Garrison Keillor
read Jeannine Hall Gailey's poem "Female Comic Book Superheroes" on
The Writer's Almanac
on July 7th, 2006, and the poem "Spy Girls" from Becoming the Villainess
The Writer's Almanac on June 16th,
Read two poems from the book on Verse Daily! "When Red Becomes the Wolf," from
Becoming the Villainess, was featured on
Verse Daily on April
30, 2006. Click here to read!
"Femme Fatale," also from Becoming the Villainess, was
featured on Verse Daily on April
5, 2006. Click here to read!
Two poems from the book, "Persephone and the Prince Meet Over Drinks"
and "Becoming the Villainess," were featured in the 2007
edition of The
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror anthology.
- Praise For Becoming the Villainess
- "Gailey writes with a voice full of wit and charm that keeps the reader
somewhat off balance. She serves a dish of fairy tales and myths, part vixen
and part Carol Burnett. Hers is an edginess that makes new those tales with
which we are familiar. An excellent read that will leave you wanting more."
—Colleen J. McElroy, award-winning poet and editor of
The Seattle Review
- "These full-bodied persona poems give dimension to the powerful (and
powerless) female heroes of myth and comic books with strong voices that
struggle against stereotype and silence. Make room for this new take on
the oldest story in the book."
—Dorianne Laux, award-winning poet and co-author of The Poet's Companion
- "In this splendidly entertaining debut, Jeannine Hall Gailey offers
us a world both familiar and magical—filled with fairytale and mythology
characters that are our own bedfellows—we wake up with Philomel and argue
with Ophelia while half-listening to a Snow Queen, amidst Spy Girls, Amazons
and Mongolian Cows. The wild and seductive energy in this collection never
lets one put the book down. (In fact, any one who opens the collection in
the bookstore and reads such poems as The Conversation and Job
Requirements: A Supervillain’s Advice will want to buy the book!) For
her delivery is heart-breaking and refreshing, so the poems seduce us with
the sadness, glory and entertainment of our very own days. Propelled by
Jeannine Hall Gailey’s alert, sensuous, and musical gifts, the mythology
becomes all our own."
—Ilya Kaminsky, author of the award-winning Dancing
- Reviews and Features
To read the full text of all reviews, click here.
- "Gailey further updates the old stories with a number of
contemporary flourishes. Her women use Johnson’s baby wipes, play video
games, watch film noir, and read Glamour magazine. They wear
Benetton sweaters, stilettos, and pleather boots. They drive fast cars,
smoke cigarettes, play softball, and have “sex without apologizing."
- "In a time when poetry has become polarized-narrative or lyrical,
accessible or academic, serious or comedic--it is refreshing to read
poetry that flirts with the spaces in between. Jeannine Hall Gailey's
work does just this; she has released a body of poetry that is at once
mature and thrilling, humorous and intense, appealing to audiences of
poets and non-poets alike. "
- "It is a rare thing to find a poem that makes me laugh while evoking
serious emotion, but not rare in Becoming the Villainess, with many poems characterized by a sorrowing
playfulness reminiscent of Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art.” In her debut
poetry collection, Gailey recreates myths from Persephone to Buffy the
Vampire Slayer, examining the victim/villain casting of mythic women
with wit, grace and insight...With her blend of colloquial and lyric
language, of pop culture and ancient tradition, Gailey not only renews
myth for the modern reader, but illuminates our strengths and
vulnerabilities through the lens of myth."
- "She skillfully disarms us with her dark humor...and then goes to
hit us with hard and heartbreaking truths..."
"I read poetry hoping
that it will transform me on some basic level, that after reading a
poem, I won't ever look at the subject matter in quite the same way
again. Gailey is a master of this kind of poems."
"Becoming the Villainess is the debut collection of
free-verse poetry by journalist Jeannine Hall Gailey. Addressing the
archetypes of myth, from modern pop culture to Ovid to Grimm's fairy
tales, Gailey weaves words expressing the hearts of shunned, reviled,
justly and unjustly treated villainesses and female victims of fable. A
dramatic, moving collection; each poem has a gripping personal story to
- "Ever since “Through
the Looking Glass” appeared in RHINO 2005, we have admired Jeannine Hall
Gailey’s luminous persona poems that introduce us to worlds both
dangerously fantastic and dangerously familiar...this collection invites
readers to slip into another skin... This stunning debut is guaranteed
to engage readers of many appetites."
- "Jeannine Hall Gailey’s Becoming
the Villainess remembers a truth that some books tend to forget:
poetry can be fun without sacrificing serious intent or importance....Becoming the Villainess is
an accomplished first book that should appeal to a wide audience. Like
much good poetry, it is, in the end, about unity, reminding us all—male
and female, villain or villainess—how our own lives are inhabited and
enriched by the myths and stories that have made us who we are."
Click here to read
an interview with Jeannine Hall Gailey by poet Kate Greenstreet about
how her first book changed her life.
- About the Author
- Jeannine Hall Gailey is a Seattle-area writer with a Master's Degree
in English from the University of Cincinnati and an MFA in Creative
Writing, Poetry from Pacific
University. She volunteers as a consulting editor for Crab Creek Review and has
reviewed poetry books for the American Book Review, Calyx, and others.
She recently joined the core faculty for Centrum's Young Artists
Project. A poem from this book was nominated for the Pushcart
Prize. The manuscript that became
Becoming the Villainess was also a finalist for
Kent State's Wick Prize, the Winnow Press First Book contest, and the Carnegie
Mellon University Press Poetry Series, and a semifinalist for the Bakeless
Poetry Prize in 2004. Her chapbook,
Female Comic Book Superheroes,
published by Pudding House Press. For more information, see