For Rapunzel.

Once upon a time, barred tower with no

stair, hair. Me too, still rising, still wising

up Angelou, hair. Gaudy nights hair. Lead, 

then dead hair. Chopped round the neck, Queen Marie

Antoinette hair. Tightly curled, z angled,

dare hair: cornrows, locs, chunky bantu knots, 

braids, plaits, Senegalese twist, Africa

missed hair. Up or down, laissez faire hair. Nell

Gwynne’s don’t care, parting, tarting hair. Pony

tails, pig tails, mermaid tails, red hand-maid’s tales, 

hidden in a veil hair. Criss-crossed chignon, 

waterfall to dream on, declare hair. Tucked,

unkempt, scrunched, bunched, faux, don’t know, hair. Boho

vibe, Virginia super scribe, lighthouse

hair. Rare hair, beauty and the beach hair. Chic,

meek, tumble in the creek styles. Miss Marple’s 

chatter, fish-wives’ clatter, we matter, hair.

Pharoah Cleo’s Nemes dream; Dot’s daffodil

prose, Lizzie Siddal’s wet pose, hair. Wicked

Mallen streak snare hair. Medusa snake hair.

Gentileschi’s Baroque shock, Judith’s don’t

mess with me, scare hair. Delilah’s chop chop,

don’t stop hair. Slate grey, mountain stoneware or

shiny opal glare hair. Peaches, velvet

mock flock, ombre, metallic block, never

square hair. Lapis lazuli, blue hue, rinsed

from history; the Abbess of Crewe hair.

Illuminate scriptoria prayer

hair. Toasted, roasted, shadow or ghosted,

let’s share hair. Ruby, copper, bronze, or gold

hair, to have and to hold hair. Silver like 

a fox, gems from Pandora’s box, beware

hair. Good Queen Bess’s rust witchcraft tresses,

cousin Mary’s bothey, Bonfire toffee,

mulled wine, chocolate éclair hair. Who will

buy, strawberry or rose, what do you think

of those? Colour me tree, chestnut, hazel,

ash, mahogany. Look at me! Lockdown

tear hair. Bare hair, spare hair, there-there hair. Wave

or shave. Rapunzel the brave hair. Stay free. 



For Rapunzel by Vanwy MacDonald Arif and Kianna Lindley-Johnson.


Vanwy, a writer and Kianna, an illustrator, love children’s literature and illustration. For Rapunzel is inspired by fourteen-year-old Emily, whom Vanwy met when she became Emily’s tutor. Marvellous Emily is making her way in life with wit, intelligence, and charm, despite navigating multiple family bereavement, the care system, the criminal justice system, and dyslexia. Emily has blonde hair which cascades to her hips and is fashioned into stunning styles each day. As Emily is determined to train as a hairdresser, the poem names the designs she can already create. The poem also lists a host of wonderful women who can show Emily how to succeed. Kianna’s vivid, vibrant digital artwork honours the diversity and inclusivity celebrated in For Rapunzel. 

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