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Becoming the Villainess

jeannine hall gailey


Poetry $12.00



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 in Odessa

Reviews and Features

Praise from Review Revue

"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."


A Rave from Rattle

"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. "


Not Fickle When it comes to Becoming the Villainess

"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."
--Fickle Muses


Skillful and Hard-Hitting

"She skillfully disarms us with her dark humor...and then goes to hit us with hard and heartbreaking truths..."


Transformative Poems

"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."
--Galatea Resurrects


Myth as Personal Story

"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 tell."
--Midwest Book Review


Rhino Recommends

"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."



An Accomplished First Book

"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."
--The Pedestal Magazine


Read a Review Translated from Dutch

Becoming the Villainess just keeps going strong and is still garnering reviews. Read this review here.


Becoming the Villainess Merits Wiki-Status

Read the Wikipedia article to find out things that even Steel Toe Books did not know!


The Author Speaks

Click here to read an interview with Jeannine Hall Gailey by poet Kate Greenstreet about how her first book changed her life.


Poems from Becoming the Villainess Featured on The Writer's Almanac, on Verse Daily and Anthologized

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" on June 16th, 2006. Verse Daily featured two of Jeannine's poems as their poem of the day, "When Red Becomes the Wolf," on April 30, 2006 and "Femme Fatale," on April 5, 2006. 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.


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 , was published by Pudding House Press. For more information, see Jeannine's Web site.

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