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Transformations

4.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,167 Ratings  ·  189 Reviews
1st Edition, US
Hardcover
Published (first published 1971)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kinga
Apr 08, 2012 Kinga rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poetry is like wine to me. I enjoy it occasionally but I don’t have enough knowledge or experience to write elaborate tasting notes.

Like wine, I enjoy poetry on a more intangible level, the only difference is that of course, I am not more likely to go to bed with you if we end up reading poetry for the whole evening.
Therefore, I won’t write a proper review of Anne Sexton’s Transformations. But even Kurt Vonnegut Jr didn’t write anything sensible in his foreword to this edition.
‘Transformations’
...more
Teresa
Mar 22, 2014 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Teresa by: Mikki
Sexton takes specific fairy tales, starts each with a modern-day prologue and then tells the tale in her own fashion while being faithful to the plot of the original. Some of the humorous allusions she uses are now dated, such as describing Rumpelstiltskin's body as not being Sanforized; but as a whole, each poem extends the universal truth of the Grimm tale, as with Cinderella's prince's "marriage [meat] market."

I've probably read a Sexton poem here or there, but this was my first extended read
...more
Natalie
An essential part of my early-life feminist awakening. Observe Cinderella as viewed by Anne Sexton:

You always read about it:
the plumber with the twelve children
who wins the Irish Sweepstakes.
From toilets to riches.
That story.


Or the nursemaid,
some luscious sweet from Denmark
who captures the oldest son's heart.
from diapers to Dior.
That story.


Or a milkman who serves the wealthy,
eggs, cream, butter, yogurt, milk,
the white truck like an ambulance
who goes into real estate
and makes a pile.
From homogeni
...more
Mikki
Feb 27, 2011 Mikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry

Anne Sexton puts her spin on seventeen of the classic Grimm Fairy Tales -- simultaneously funny, twisted and dark. Each of her stories opens with a poem that introduces the tale with a comparison to modern culture.

For example, for Cinderella she writes:

You always read about it:
the plumber with the twelve children
who wins the Irish Sweepstakes.
From toilets to riches.
That story.

Or the nursemaid,
some luscious sweet from Denmark
who captures the oldest son's heart.
from diapers to Dior.
That s
...more
averybiird
Dec 23, 2015 averybiird rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, myth-folklore

“He turns the key.
Presto!
It opens this book of odd tales.
Which transform The Brothers Grimm.
Transform?
As if an enlarged paper clip
Could be a piece of sculpture.
(And it could.)”

-from The Gold Key


I am reading Transformations as part of The Complete Poems, but feel it should be discussed separately as it differs from this poet's usual style of confessional poetry. Although that is not quite true, as each of these fairy tale retellings does have a few stanzas of introduction that are modern reflect
...more
Karsten
Sep 05, 2012 Karsten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is 16 of the Grimm brothers folktales, retold, and an intro poem declaring that we are all a boy who, "upon finding a nickel / he would look for a wallet. This boy! Upon finding a string / he would look for a harp." And, the poem goes on, he/we have found a gold key that will open this book, where Grimm's tales are transformed.

And upon finding the tales, we look for a...?

Sexton recognizes what is ridiculous in these old tales and drily teases it a little in every poem. The dwarves who
...more
Melanti
I think I've heard Anne Sexton mentioned in the same breath as Angela Carter so often that I was expecting something more along the lines of Carter's twisted retellings that have Little Red Riding Hood seducing the wolf, or Beauty turning into a lion in order to stay with the Beast.

But instead, what Sexton delivers is mostly straight-forward retellings that are surprisingly "by the book" other than a bit of change to modernize the settings. There were a few - especially towards the end of the v
...more
Elizabeth
Oct 16, 2013 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredible!

You haven't read THESE fairy tales unless you've read 'Transformations'

I FIRST read this for a graduate school seminar: Confessional Women Poets. I've returned to it countless times and still have my copy that I purchased in 1982. So many notes and highlighted parts to taste and savor again and again. It's fascinating to be reading these stories now at age fifty one and seeing how I felt and what I thought when I was nineteen. Takes me back to countless life experiences - the fabulo
...more
Sylvain
I like the sense of humour of people who commit suicide:
"As for Hansel and Gretel,
they escaped and went home to their father.
Their mother,
you'll be glad to hear, was dead."
Kim
Dec 23, 2008 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Giedre
Oct 29, 2015 Giedre rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5/5

Anne Sexton's dark, twisted and fun poetic retellings of Grimm fairytales. While reading these poems I was very much reminded of Angela Carter. I'm not trying to compare Sexton and Carter, but there you go. Highlights: "Hansel and Gretel", "Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty)", "Rapunzel", "Cinderella", "Red Riding Hood", "Godfather Death", "The Little Peasant".
Jean
Jul 13, 2014 Jean rated it it was amazing
In the throes of my renewed passion for all things fairy tale this summer, I decided to pick up my favorite book of poetry, Anne Sexton's (or Mother Sexton, to evoke the persona she takes on here) collection of Grimm stories, told with her usual biting wit, and her cynical eye for female behavior and gender roles. While "Cinderella" is perhaps the poem that gets reproduced the most in collections:

"Next came the ball, as you all know.
It was a marriage market."

Mainly, I think, because of its commo
...more
Sabra Embury
Jan 05, 2011 Sabra Embury rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The sharp-witted poems collected in this volume are reenactments of seventeen Grimm Fairy Tales, some more memorable from childhood (Cinderella, Rumpelstiltskin) than others (the White Snake, Godfather Death). Some receive better tangents than others, too, and blessed be those, which are my favorites, especially "Red Riding Hood" and "the Twelve Dancing Princesses." Here's a taste:

If you danced from midnight
to six A.M. who would understand?

The runaway boy
who chucks it all
to live on the Boston Co
...more
Ch_jank-caporale
Transformations is a collection of poetic re-interpretations of the traditional fairy tales by Anne Sexton. They are probably not appropriate for children unless in high school. Caution should be made regarding some of the sexual content, not to mention the violence already included in many versions of the traditional tales.

Fairy tales are a method to transmit the values of a culture. In Transformations, Sexton questions some of the values they teach girls, and in doing so rebels against traditi
...more
katemfs
So I'm not especially familiar with Brothers Grimm fairy tales, and that became glaringly obvious a few nights ago.

"Hey guys," I started, slightly inebriated. "I'm reading this book of poems--"

"Anne Sexton?" Moira asked, as the cover came within her view. "You're reading Anne Sexton?"

"Yes- so, these poems are, like, a retelling or reinterpretation or re- something of fairy tales."

At this point, Adam is making noises at his dog, and Moira is rolling her eyes about my latest literary endeavor. I,
...more
Belinda
May 12, 2014 Belinda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Just stunning. Intro by Kurt Vonnegut-charming--weird--first poetry inspired by the fairy tale--then poetic re-telling of the fairy tale. sharp, funny, melancholy, a little shocking--a complete experience. I am so ready to start this from page one and do it again. I can't wait to read even more.
Sarah
Aug 11, 2013 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, poetry
"Once there was a witch's garden
more beautiful than Eve's
with carrots growing like little fish,
with many tomatoes rich as frogs,
onions as ingrown as hearts,
the squash singing like a dolphin
and one patch given over wholly to magic--
rampion, a kind of salad root,
a kind of harebell more potent than penicillin,
growing leaf by leaf, skin by skin,
as rapt and as fluid as Isadora Duncan."

Here, indeed, is the witch's garden, though what kind of witch and what kind of garden is up to the reader to decide.
...more
Andrea Beltran
Oct 07, 2011 Andrea Beltran rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I read this collection in college and now realize I never fully appreciated it. I chose to revisit it with improved eyes (actually, I think the book called me to revisit it) and I dedicated myself to the dissection of each poem, line by line. I read it twice to be sure I didn't miss anything. Just as Vonnegut writes in his introduction, I could never attempt to explain these poems. I can hardly write a review of Anne Sexton's Transformations that I feel would do it any justice. It is a book to b ...more
Zara Stubbs
Jun 15, 2016 Zara Stubbs rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely incredible. My favourite anthology alongside Plath's Ariel.
Megan
Dec 02, 2014 Megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A perfect re-entry into poetry.
Andy Zell
Oct 29, 2015 Andy Zell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Transformations by Anne Sexton is an off-kilter poetry collection retelling familiar fairy tales. The stories from Grimm may be familiar, but the tone and the telling are decidedly fresh and exciting. Take the scene in “Cinderella,” where the sisters are trying on the slipper:
The eldest went into a room to try the slipper on
but her big toe got in the way so she simply
sliced it off and put on the slipper.
The prince rode away with her until the white dove
told him to look at the blood pouring forth
...more
Kristieanna
Jan 20, 2012 Kristieanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Anne Sexton makes me want to cut myself.
For some reason, I still read her, obsessively.
"My mouth blooms like a cut", she writes in "The Kiss".
What does this even mean?
Why does this phrase haunt me?

Knowing that she was a housewife tortured by words and imagery,
that she created instead of taking a nap,
that she could fry the eggs and then write
on her palms, of joy....
and that she died in a fur coat,
ringless and on purpose,
makes me tired which ultimately, saves me from cutting.




Victoria
Sep 13, 2010 Victoria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fairytale
This book was exactly what I expected, with Sexton's strong power of wording and grappling with fairytales of old. She does indeed "transform" the stories with her modern twists and nuances of language, often giving them meanings I had not yet considered. Overall an intricate but quick, pleasurable read.

Best line:
It is not enough to read Hesse
and drink clam chowder
we must have the answers.
saizine
Mar 20, 2016 saizine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A blunt and masterful book of poems retelling recognizable fairy tales. Transformations was my first foray into collections of Sexton's work (rather than happening across individual poems every now and again) and I am struck by the intimacy of the modern/the ancient in these, and the strong thread of the Brothers Grimm without letting them anywhere near dominate. Fascinating. Vonnegut's introduction is also worth commending: "Anne Sexton does a deeper favor for me: she domesticates my terror, ex ...more
Miriam
Mar 28, 2010 Miriam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, mythology
Elizabeth said: Sexton wrote a play entitled Mercy Street, which also led to the Peter Gabriel song of the same title. But, really, if you want a connection, read Sexton's The Frog Prince while listening to Gabriel's Kiss that Frog. Domesticated terror indeed. Also, Shawn Colvin's "Object of My Affection."
Joe
Oct 14, 2013 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teaching
How many times have I read and taught this book? Too many, in a sense, and yet it always repays rereading, and it always gives rise to remarkable student writing. One of the key works of our time.
Erin
Apr 14, 2016 Erin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Fourth in Poetry-Before-Bed. I love fairy tale retellings, and have read a lot of them. These were fairly straightforward retellings of some Grimms' versions-- some well-known, others less so. Sexton puts a bit of a spin on them, either through point of view or unexpected modern references and metaphors that add concreteness to the tales. For example, she says of the shoes in "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," "Each was as worn as an old jockstrap." Each poem also begins with a section by an unkno ...more
Drew
Oct 19, 2015 Drew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
The first time I read this Anne Sexton collection, I thought disparagingly, "Oh, these aren't poems at all. They're just updated fairy tales with line breaks." The second time, I thought, "I don't care what these are, they're marvelously, hilariously wicked." The third time, "Oh, these are poems alright for what's a poem if not a philosophy with a rhythm?" Disney staples like "Cinderella" and "Snow White" feel completely refreshed. Lesser-known fables like "The Gold Key" and "The White Snake" ar ...more
Linda
Jul 21, 2011 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, 2011, american-lit
i don't know that i loved her style in this, but i enjoyed reading these adaptations. sleeping beauty in particular.
Eileen Ying
Transformations is a collection of poems based on Brothers Grimm fairytales (Snow White, Hansel & Gretel, Cinderella, etc.) Each poem begins with a sort of modern preamble, then dives into the actual story.

I feel like I'm not in a position to rate this because I know next to nothing about poetry, but here are some of my thoughts:

Sexton's poems are filled with dark, dark humor and allusions ranging from popular culture (of the 60s) to heavy topics that are usually met with hesitation by othe
...more
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  • The Poets' Grimm: 20th Century Poems from Grimm Fairy Tales
  • The Gold Cell (Knopf Poetry Series)
  • Diving Into the Wreck
  • The Wild Iris
  • Anne Sexton: A Biography
  • The Lost Lunar Baedeker: Poems of Mina Loy
  • Beginning with O
  • Trilogy: The Walls Do Not Fall / Tribute to the Angels / The Flowering of the Rod
  • The Country Between Us
  • Crossing the Water
  • Ghost Girl
  • What the Living Do: Poems
  • Space, in Chains
  • Fire to Fire
  • Book of My Nights
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Anne Sexton once told a journalist that her fans thought she got better, but actually, she just became a poet. These words are characteristic of a talented poet that received therapy for years, but committed suicide in spite of this. The poetry fed her art, but it also imprisoned her in a way.

Her parents didn’t expect much of her academically, and after completing her schooling at Rogers Hall, sh
...more
More about Anne Sexton...

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“And I. I too.
Quite collected at cocktail parties,
meanwhile in my head
I'm undergoing open-heart surgery.”
66 likes
“Give me your skin
as sheer as a cobweb,
let me open it up
and listen in and scoop out the dark.”
39 likes
More quotes…