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  • Writer's pictureBelle Kenyon

Introducing Sarah Wallis and 'Medusa Retold'

Delighted to welcome Sarah Wallis to the Fly on the Wall Press family with her long form poem chapbook, 'Medusa Retold'. I love poetry which tells a narrative and this collection certainly does that, weaving the story of a lonely and misunderstood Medusa on the fringes of society, with a fierce love of nature and a desire to be accepted.

Sarah Wallis on the influences behind this collection:

I have a long held interest in retellings of well-known stories, whether from myth or fairy tale, and Angela Carter’s work was an early influence on my own. The sea is also a big influence in much of my work (poetry, flash fiction and playwriting) is also inspired by the sea.

What do people know about Medusa?

That she had snakes for hair and turned people to stone. If they remember any more that’s unusual. Although there are many versions that differ in level of detail, the story is always told from Perseus’ point of view, the hero who chopped her head off. Eventually he gave the head to Athena and she kept it on her shield as a weapon. In Ovid’s version Medusa is a beautiful woman living on the island of Sarpedon, then cursed by Athena, after she was raped by Poseidon in the Temple of Athena, with snakes for hair and so terrible an aspect that she turned any who looked on her to stone. Other versions ignore this bit and we’re left to assume that she was born this way.

My story is a version that includes a focus on her early life, a headstrong loner, living by the sea and trying to find her place in the world. She has trouble making and holding onto friendships because she is a little odd, introverted and self involved, particularly drawn to creatures of the sea, so much so that she tries to protect a jellyfish from attack. The jellyfish tendrils alluding to ‘snakes for hair’ essential part of the tale, references will sing, recur and echo throughout of the parts of the myth that people know and I hope it will be like solving a puzzle when you read the poem.

'Medusa Retold' will be out in Winter 2020.

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