Eating cherries with a ghost

“The way to read a fairy tale is to throw yourself in.” – W.H. Auden

Everyone loves Fairy Tales, and everyone has their favourite. For me they have been the basis for a certain way of viewing the world- muddled up with dreams and magic, influencing my creative work, my approach to relationships and even (to some extent) my personal politics and philosophy. They are a form of escapism, a place where anything can happen- where you can walk through a door into another world and eat cherries with a ghost- or a multi-coloured unicorn.

Anyone who used to stare out the window day-dreaming at school will know that the sense of freedom these stories evoke in a person is one of the best, most gratifying kinds of freedom that there is. Nowadays, when everything can seem to be a little utilitarian, what could be better than opening a book and reading about worlds where you can wander into enchanted woodlands and avoid getting eaten by terrible flesh-eating witches or crocodiles that can talk? Not much.

It’s a shame that somewhere along the line (in the 19th and 20th Centuries by all accounts) Fairy Tales ceased to be for everyone and became exclusively for children. It’s tempting to think that maybe Industrialisation had a part to play in this; more and more we are losing touch with nature’s mysticism- the oral tradition has died out a little due to the breakdown of communities and science will insist on finding things out… the same old boring complaints. That is why an organisation like my local community centre Significant Seams is so important- it brings people together and celebrates everything ‘folk’.

With this in mind I decided to set up a night of Fairy Tale readings at the centre. As a poet I am always on the look out for opportunities to promote literacy and think that there is something really important about hearing stories out loud. As with poetry, listening to the musicality of the words adds a whole new layer of meaning and enjoyment. It wasn’t supposed to be a performance- it was merrymaking, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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