Jeannine Hall Gaileys poetry will unleash anyones inner "Bad Girl." Alternately funny, violent, wicked, and sad, Gailey presents mythic archetypes in a surprising new light against a backdrop of pop culture, Ovid, Grimms fairy tales, and the struggles of contemporary women, in surprisingly refreshing poems like "When Red Becomes the Wolf" and the title poem, "Becoming the Villainess." A strong follow-up to her chapbook Female Comic Book Superheroes (Pudding House Press 2005), in Becoming the Villainess "Gailey writes with a voice full of wit and charm that keeps the reader somewhat off balance," declares Colleen McElroy, winner of the American Book Award, professor at the University of Washington, and editor of The Seattle Review. "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." Steel Toe Books selected Becoming the Villainess as its first solicited manuscript.
We at Steel Toe Books concur with Ilya Kaminsky, winner of the prestigious Whiting Writer's Award and the Dorset Prize, when he states that "in this splendidly entertaining debut, Jeannine Hall Gailey offers us a world both familiar and magical.... The wild and seductive energy in this collection never lets one put the book down... 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 Gaileys alert, sensuous and musical gifts, the mythology becomes our own."
Gailey, who earned an MA in English at the University of Cincinnati and is pursuing her MFA at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, is a master at weaving her pop-culture poems, such as "Spy Girls" and "Amazon Women on the Moon," with classical myth and fairy tales, in poems like "Cinderella at the Car Dealership" and "Playing Softball With Persephone," that in the words of Dorianne Laux "give dimension to the powerful (and powerless) female heroes of myth and comic books that struggle against the stereotype and silence." Heres an excerpt from Gaileys Pushcart Prize-nominated poem "Wonder Woman Dreams of the Amazon": My daily transformation
from prim kitten-bowed suit to bustier
with red-white-and-blue stars
is less disturbing. The invisible jet
makes for clean escapes. The animals are my spies and allies;
inexplicably, snow-feathered doves
appear in my hands. I capture Nazis and Martians with boomerang grace.
When I turn and turn, the music plays louder,
the glow around me burns white-hot, I become everything I was born to be,
the dreams of the mother,
the threat of the father.
Gaileys poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, The Columbia Poetry Review, Verse Daily, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Rattle, and 32 Poems, among others. She lives in the Seattle area with her husband.