Books Crazy about Cybils Poetry Friday Read-a-Latte Reading Themes Young Adult (YA) Literature

Poetry Friday: Classic Tales in Twisted Verses (Ron Koertge’s Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses)

poetry friday


Alas, we are nearing the end of our Cybils journey. Today’s post features the poetry collection of Ron Koertge in Lives, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses. I picked it up from the Teen Hot Picks section of the Chula Vista Public Library because the cover intrigued me. I didn’t know that the book was a finalist in the 2012 Cybils poetry category. (Big thank you to the lovely Linda Baie at TeacherDance for pointing that out to me!)

Book borrowed from the Chula Vista Public Library. Book photo taken by me.
Book borrowed from the Chula Vista Public Library. Book photo taken by me.

Do you want to sleep? Find another storyteller.
Do you want to think about the world in a new way?

Come closer. Closer, please.
I want to whisper in your ear.

— Ron Koertge

Who doesn’t love fractured fairytales? In this poetry collection, Ron Koertge reimagines classic stories and turns them into twisted tales. I must warn you. This book is not for everyone, and this is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Also, I was faced with a problem. I wasn’t familiar with some of the stories or, more precisely, didn’t know from what fairytale some poems were based on. And so I got lost in the verses. (This also means I need to brush up on my classic stories!) Ron Koertge’s poems, grim and (sometimes) gory, are complemented by the illustrations of visual artist Andrea Dezsö who I believe used drawing and cut paper in her artwork.

My Poetry Friday offering today features the perspective of the Wolf in Little Red Riding Hood. Dark as it may sound, the poem is making a statement. I could not help but be reminded of Princess Mononoke, the award-winning animated film of Hayao Miyazaki. If you read the poem, you’ll understand. You can find out more about Princess Mononoke by visiting this website. Sheri Doyle hosts the Poetry Friday roundup for today.

Digital art done by Syncaidia.
Digital art done by Syncaidia.


Let’s get a few things straight. Only a few of us like to
dress up like grandma and trick little girls. Those who
do belong to what we call the Scarlet Underground.
It’s not their fault, so they’re tolerated if not embraced.

The rest of us are wolves through and through. We enjoy
the chase, the kill, a nap in the sun on a full stomach.

Our enemy is man with his arrogance and greed.
The woodsman in particular. Destroyer of trees.
Clearer of land. Owner of fire.

While he drops and burns and builds, we terrorize his
wife, surrounding her as she goes for water. We howl
outside his windows half of the night, and if that doesn’t
drive him away we take him out, leaving just a few
bones so the message is clear:

This is our forest. Perfect before you came.
Perfect again when all your kind is dead.


What about you?
What dark and grim story are you hiding in your pocket?


Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses
Finalist, 2012 Cybils Poetry
AWB Reading Challenge Update: 14 of 35


Read-a-Latte Challenge Update: 43 of 150

6 comments on “Poetry Friday: Classic Tales in Twisted Verses (Ron Koertge’s Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses)

  1. I enjoyed the poetry & its dark look at the stories, but it’s definitely for the older young adult. I can see where it would be a wonderful unit of study, poem by poem, & then to see what the students could do. Great to hear your ideas of the book, Myra.


  2. I loved this books and was so glad that it was a finalist for the CYBILS.


  3. Love, love, love this book! Thank you for sharing it today! Ron was one of my instructors at Hamline – awesome teacher and poet. =)


  4. Very interesting book, it looks like…as mentioned before, probably not for the young but remarkable to use with older teens?


  5. I loved this book too! It was so unique and the illustrations were absolutely fabulous!


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