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Red Riding Hood Opens the Door

a close up photo of a gray wolf
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Shanan Ballam’s latest poetry collection gives an unlikely character a voice.

Within Inside the Animal: The Collected Red Riding Hood Poems, the Wolf is a reimagined figure. No longer just a violent creature from the archives. He is given the complexity of humanity. But more importantly, Ballam, Logan’s Poet Laureate, has found her voice.


There is a house.

Inside the house,

Cover of Shanan Ballam’s Inside the Animal: The Collected Red
Riding Hood Poems.

a wolf. Inside the wolf,

an old woman. Inside the old

woman, an empty womb glittering

music: teeth, hair, fists,

bulb of brain blooming intricate.

Inside the wolf inside the woman

there is a deep metal fear

of bodies shattering into

fragments, shimmering

back into syntax.

Meanwhile, the old woman’s daughter

packs a basket, dresses

her daughter in a red cape, directs

her into a green-black forest

where there is no god, only a story,

wild roses always breathing soft warnings.

She reaches the house,opens

the door, a dark mouth opens

and she knows again the dazzling pain

of self in all its forms,

our disastrous needs.

The story is so heavy. Inside

a small house, a wolf weeps.

The womb aches.


From Inside the Animal: The Collected Red Riding Hood Poems, by Shanan Ballam, Main Street Rag Publishing Company, Charlotte, North Carolina

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