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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing and Entertaining Debut Collection!
Jeannine Hall Gailey's first book of poetry does not disappoint. The poems are witty and moving, smart and surprising. With titles such as "Playing Softball with Persephone," "Amazon Women on the Moon," and "While Reading Glamour in a Dark Age," you cannot help but want to turn the page to see what comes next.

Of "Female Comic Book Superheroes," Gailey writes...
Published on April 23, 2006 by K. Russell

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5 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Disappointment
It's been awhile since I really read through a volume of poetry, seeing it as a completed body of work, rather than turning and mulling over an occasional poem. I ordered this little book based, in part, on the stellar reviews given here, and was sadly disappointed.

There were two pieces in this collection that, despite study and evaluation, I could not...
Published on December 23, 2007 by Lissa Lee


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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing and Entertaining Debut Collection!, April 23, 2006
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This review is from: Becoming the Villainess (Paperback)
Jeannine Hall Gailey's first book of poetry does not disappoint. The poems are witty and moving, smart and surprising. With titles such as "Playing Softball with Persephone," "Amazon Women on the Moon," and "While Reading Glamour in a Dark Age," you cannot help but want to turn the page to see what comes next.

Of "Female Comic Book Superheroes," Gailey writes that they "are always fighting evil in a thong,/pulsing techno soundtrack in the background/as their tiny ankles thwack/against the bulk of male thugs."

Gailey's poems play with myth, reality, pop-culture, and everything else in between but with a feminist's touch and a poet's hand. Intellectual and accessible, this is wonderful debut collection that I highly recommend.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dramatic, moving collection; each poem has a gripping personal story to tell, July 10, 2006
This review is from: Becoming the Villainess (Paperback)
Becoming the Villainess is the debut collection of free-verse poetry by journalist Jeannine Hall Gailey. Addressing the archtypes 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 tell. "Daphne, Older": Peel back my skin: / reveal hard fibers, bite marks, // scars from wind and rain. / Life is pain - I won't tell you // any different. Just that sometimes, / avoiding what you fear // isn't the answer. See? All these years / my branches sang with birds // and my leaves drank sunlight- / I haven't missed much. // My heartwood hardens slowly / over time - first, to the music, then, to the light.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Thwack!" Gailey hits the mark with her first full-length poetry collection., May 15, 2006
This review is from: Becoming the Villainess (Paperback)
Jeannine Hall Gailey's book is fresh and edgy. Her collection empowers women by splicing narratives from mythology and fairy tales with modern subjects like video games and anime, giving voice to silenced women and retelling their stories with a feminist perspective. Following in the poetic footsteps of many greats, including Louise Gl?ck and Margaret Atwood, Gailey's book is sure to grasp your attention early and hold you till the end, surprising you at each step with the strength of her craft and the honesty of her own experiences told through the framework of persona poetry.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, March 28, 2008
This review is from: Becoming the Villainess (Paperback)
This is a gem of a book. The poems are accessible and imaginative, the poetics are thoughtful and expertly crafted, and the subject matter steers clear of the archaic and esoteric which belabors so much of contemporary poetry.

Gailey navigates popular culture, contemporary feminism, fairy tales, superheroes and the world of electronica with terrific finesse and a sharp sense of humor. Her voice rings clear as a bell in this collection and I can't wait to see what she's got next.

She could be a Billy Collins for the younger women in contemporary America who have already traced the roots of their power back to Suffrage and see that feminism isn't just about bra-burning and symbology, but about using what our mothers gave us: voices, brains, and mettle.

I'm inspired.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all-time favorite books of poetry, April 1, 2008
This review is from: Becoming the Villainess (Paperback)
Becoming the Villainess is hands-down one of my favorite books of persona poems! Gailey takes the familiar tropes of myth & fairy tale and transforms them into an experience of the strange, the even-stranger, the wicked & unexpected. Like Sexton's Transformations, these poems recall the stories of childhood, all the while adding depth and even a touch of humor to temper the heart-breaking moments created in this fabulous collection.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am, I am, I am superman...., February 26, 2009
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G. Porat (Colorado Springs) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Becoming the Villainess (Paperback)
Gailey's words exploded off the page into my head. I would often feel like the hesitant super-hero she was writing about. As a guy that likes poetry, but dislikes poems about nature and beautiful aristocratic 19th century women, this collection was very refreshing.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twisting Traditional Fairy Tales Before It Was Cool, June 29, 2013
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This review is from: Becoming the Villainess (Paperback)
Just before the resurgence of the YA fantasy craze, there was "Becoming the Villainess." And while this collection would appeal to such an audience, it is much more than the everyday girl with male best friend and vampire/werewolf/fallen angel/mythical creature boyfriend trope (and don't get me wrong, I enjoy this trope, too).

Rather, it's about giving voice to the voiceless whether their stories end happily or not. There is the story of Procne and Philomel, which arcs across the entire collection as Gailey unravels more about their struggles with fate and their final transformation with each poem. Gailey's skill in weaving voices is no more present than in "Remembering Philomel" which portrays the shared experience of Ovid's ("ah-vid, not oh-vid") tragic princess of Athens and a female college student. We see Persephone several times set against the backdrop of the modern-day, but with the same tug-of-war pull between seasons.

And for comic book/spy fans, we hear the voices of Sydney Bristow in "Spy Girls," Buffy Summers in "The Slayer Asks for Time Off," Lara Croft in "Dirge For a Video Game Heroine: On Dying Again," and Princess Diana of Themyscira in "Wonder Woman Dreams of the Amazon." Speaking of tropes, we have the collection of superheros' girlfriends and/or nemeses speaking in "Women in Refrigerators" where they add, "If we're lucky, we might become the villainess." And then, there is the tribute to "Female Comic Book Superheroes" of all types who still "are always fighting evil in a thong,/ pulsing techno soundtrack in the background/ as their tiny ankles thwack/ against the bulk of male thugs."

And the fairy tales are not to be forgotten, of course. In addition to Cinderella whose prince "encase[s] [her] tiny feet in glass/ to keep them from scorching the ground" ("Little Cinder") and Alice, the step-mothers and snow queens get a chance to explain their side of the story as well.

Gailey tackles fairy tales, mythology, and comic books from all sides, but she bonds the women together in a common thread in struggling to understand themselves and be understood in the midst of love, pain, and overall ass-kickery. It's a collection you will keep coming back to.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leaping Off the Comic Book Pages, July 15, 2009
This review is from: Becoming the Villainess (Paperback)
Jeannine Hall Gailey's Becoming the Villainess is a unique volume of poetry housing poems stemming in Greek mythology to comic book characters.

Gailey's images are crisp and immediate with recurring uses of pomegranates, wolves, and other items. Alice in Wonderland, Wonder Woman, Persephone, and many more make appearances in Becoming the Villainess, which is separated into five parts. At the end of the book, Gailey includes brief descriptions of the myths inspiring the poems enclosed within its pages.

Each section in Becoming the Villainess examines the evolution of female characters from innocent girls to darker, vengeful women, but these characters are deeper than stereotypical comic book characters, mothers, and goddesses. While some of these poems have a lighter, tongue-in-cheek quality to them, some of them drive home the deep dark horrors found in many legends, myths, and real-life events. One particularly jarring poem in the collection is "Remembering Philomel," in which a professor is asking for grittier details of the narrator's sexual assault.

Becoming the Villainess by Jeannine Hall Gailey is a wonderfully insightful collection that looks beneath the surface of myths and sexy comic book characters to find their motivation, their desires, and spunk.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and Addictive, July 8, 2014
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This review is from: Becoming the Villainess (Paperback)
These poems deserve to be savored, one by one. Instead I devoured them. Despite my best efforts to space them out, I finished the book in 3 days, and then began it again.

The imagery is at turns whimsical and horrifying. The author does not avoid the horror of Philomel's rape and mutilation, nor her sister's unspeakable revenge. Even more powerful to me, however, was the Selkie Wife's Daughter, who laments that her mother left her "the knowledge that she was never herself with me."

At turns exotic and familiar, magical and poignantly mundane, this is a book to treasure if you love poetry, and a book to try again with if you have never 'gotten' poetry in the past. Definitely not for children, although a mature teen will find much to enjoy and question.
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5 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Disappointment, December 23, 2007
This review is from: Becoming the Villainess (Paperback)
It's been awhile since I really read through a volume of poetry, seeing it as a completed body of work, rather than turning and mulling over an occasional poem. I ordered this little book based, in part, on the stellar reviews given here, and was sadly disappointed.

There were two pieces in this collection that, despite study and evaluation, I could not fathom. Lacking the power to understand galls, but can also inspire; I was moved to look up the three references and two stories I was unfamiliar with, but in spite of researching the myths and history used as a foundation, I found that each poem lacked clarity and focus, despite a tone that should have made the message quite clear. Poems are not apples, though; a spoilt pair should not ruin the bunch.

Looking over the remainder, I found that the majority of other poems were well-turned phrases, neatly crafted collections of words that served as clever little rants. I now understand what my college professors meant when they dismissed such offerings out of hand in Craft classes and demanded something thoughtful, moving, and insightful as well as impassioned. The few purely clever pieces dripping with personal experience were haunting in the story they conveyed, but lacked any real wisdom gained by experience.

I will say that the best poem of the bunch is one that I will hold on to for my sheaf of great pieces. "Daphne, Older" was worth the time and energy spent tripping over her less than stellar shield-sisters. A second piece of that quality would have made the book worth keeping.
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Becoming the Villainess
Becoming the Villainess by Jeannine Hall Gailey (Paperback - March 5, 2006)
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