Deep in the woods, way down the well, in the darkest, dampest parts of story, Cooley spins out his web. Like the best and most magical of fairy tales, cold press moon catches our anxieties and hopes, glimmers with mischief and mystery, and gloms on to something like truth. Romantic and irreverent, playful and profound, these poems work like spells to wake the vital heart.
Put up your broken, bloody feet, let your long, golden hair down, and take a deep huffing, puffing breath, folks. Gather round the boiling cauldron in the campfire as Dennis Cooley retells tales conjured by the Brothers Grimm and rewrites stories concocted by Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker. These are fables for naughty children.
—Nathan Dueck, A Very Special Episode
The world is made of monsters and Cooley bares this truth in dark tales parsed through poetry, twisting fairytale and fable.
—Jonathan Ball, author of Clockfire and The National Gallery
cold press moon is Dennis Cooley at his most sinister and seductive, undressing fairy tales to their bare bones, and then riding their skeletons into a land where animals speak gentle truth, and humans wax proclitic. A beautiful truncation.
—Aritha van Herk
1. Describe this poetry collection in three words or fewer.
2. What poem(s) stuck with you the most? Why?
3. What is it about fairy tales that continues to capture our fascination, hundreds of years after they were first written? Discuss.
4. As you go through each of the sections in the book, discuss what revisions in content/tone Cooley is introducing to the featured fairy tale or story. (Were any of the stories ones you were unfamiliar with? Spend some time discussing them now and becoming acquainted with the original before considering how Cooley has modified it).
5. Cooley also plays with point-of-view in this collection. What is the effect of telling the story though the eyes of Rumplestilskin? The father in Hansel and Gretel? Rose Red?
6. How does this collection engage in current discussions of gender? Find examples in the book.
7. Which other classic fairy tales would you like to see rewritten for a contemporary audience? What modifications to the original story do you think would be appropriate for our current cultural climate?
8. Fairy tales exist within the realm of popular culture—what characteristics do you think a story requires that help it stand the test of time to continue existing within popular culture, fairy tale or otherwise (i.e., Dracula and Frankenstein)? Is the criteria the same for music/songs? Discuss.
9. Cooley’s retelling of fairy tales reintroduces some of the darker imagery and tones that were present in many original versions of these fairy tales, which were meant as cautionary tales to children. (If you were unfamiliar with this fact, take some time to research/discuss original versions of these stories now). Why do you think companies like Disney have toned down these details for young audiences today? Do you think children are missing out on important lessons as a result? (Why or why not?) What are they teaching children instead, and is it helpful or harmful to their development? Discuss.
10. How important is the body in cold-press moon? What kinds of bodily experiences are featured and what is the overall attitude(s) toward the body in this collection?
11. What role does humour play in cold-press moon?
12. What role does the unconscious (dream/nightmare) play in this collection?
13. Are you familiar with the poetry of Dennis Cooley? If so, how does cold-press moon compare to his previous work? If not, are you likely to pursue more of his books?
Turnstone Press Ltd.
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Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada