Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Teeny Tiny Woman

I've told this story before when I've given readings, but I realized that I've never posted to this blog about why I gave the name Teeny Tiny to my zine and small press.

When I was little, one of my favorite stories was the story of the teeny tiny woman. The story was in a collection of children's stories; I think it was part of a set of something like four volumes, but I can't remember for sure. (The books my brother and I had when we were kids must be stored in a box in his attic; I know we couldn't have gotten rid of them.) I remember my mom reading me the story, and also I remember paging through the collection of stories and looking at the other stories in sort of a passing way but then returning to the story of the teeny tiny woman and her teeny tiny cat.

For a long time, I thought the title of the story was The Teeny Tiny Woman, but it was actually published as Teeny-Tiny Tale by Jan Sukus. Not long ago, my friend Sandy found a copy of the book that had belonged to her sons and gave it to me. I'd come upon other versions of the story over the years, including one by the wonderful children's author Tomie DePaola, but I'd never found the one with the illustrations I remembered until Sandy gave me her sons' copy of the book. Thanks, Sandy!

I did a little searching online, and there are some great scans from the book on this blog about vintage kids' books, to give you an idea of the illustrations. They remind me a little of the illustrations of Ellen Raskin, whose work I would come to love when I was in elementary school.

This page shares an interesting version of the entire story as part of a collection of English fairy tales. In the version I remember, the woman found the bone in front of a doghouse, not in a graveyard. Otherwise, though, this is the story I loved, with its many repetitions of "teeny tiny."

I chose the name for my zine because, of course, I started Teeny Tiny Press with the idea of making a little zine with eight pages folded from a single sheet of paper. It couldn't be a much teenier or tinier publishing project, I felt. But I also liked the idea of the teeny tiny woman shouting back in her loudest teeny tiny voice; it seemed like an apt metaphor for my efforts to send my poems into the wide, loud world.

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