Poetry Thursdays: Fierce Fairytales

So, a couple of weeks ago, on National Poetry Day, I posted about how much I enjoy poetry, but rarely choose to read it. This evolved into the idea of making my Thursday posts (weekly when I can, fortnightly when life takes over!) poetry posts.

In strangely serendipitous timing, I had just started reading ‘Fierce Fairytales’ by Nikita Gill, which I was sent by Trapeze in exchange for an honest review.

Drawn in by the fairytale theme (anything linked to a fairytale gets me!) and that gorgeous cover by Tomas Almeida, I hadn’t realised when I requested it was that the majority of the book is poetry (though some ‘chapters’ do take the form of prose).

9781409181590

Step into this world of empowering, reimagined fairytales where the stereotypes of obliging lovers, violent men and girls that need rescuing are transformed.

Opening it to find poetry inside was a lovely surprise – what an original way to examine these characters and tales. And ‘examine’ I think is the key word there: for that is what this feels like – rather than a reimagining (although there are reimagined versions of tales in there), it’s more analysis, speculation and possibility: why did the characters act like they did? What if this had happened instead? Could it be possible that the way we were told it was not quite how it was? What lessons can we learn from them?

The book features everyone from from Jack and his magic beans to Cinderella to Peter Pan to Red Riding Hood – each with a new angle or twist; but standing alongside them are the villains cast against them – each giving their side to the story, their reasons and their own misfortunes.

Tradition and perception are challenged with humour, defiance and reason. There is rage in these words, but there is also hope. There is caution, but also inspiration.

If I was being harsh my only minor issue was that I felt some of the later poems in the book were rather repetitive or contrived in their links to the fairytale themes. Personally, I’d have rather had a slimmed down collection with a strong, specific fairytale link, as many of these had, and seen some of the others that linked more broadly to the feminist/mental health/societal themes in a separate collection.

But that’s just me, and I still loved it overall.

However, whether grouped here or separated, within these poems you will find one that speaks to you (most likely more than one) – maybe, like Baba Yaga, you are ageing ungracefully and proud; maybe you’ve encountered your own Prince Charming (spoiler: this is no Disney romance); maybe, like so many of the characters here, you know the power of words to build or destroy:

“They used to burn witches because of stories. A story is no small thing.”

(Belladonna)

Personal favourites included Cry Wolf, The Hatter, The Woods Reincarnated and The Miller’s Daughter. But the one I love best of all, so much so I’d like it printed and framed is the opening poem, Once Upon a Time:

Are you a fairytale fan?

Have you read this – what did you think?

What do you think of the poem I’ve shared here from it?

Hello Old Friend

Today is National Poetry Day.

We have a funny old relationship, poetry and I. Like a friend you realise you’ve not seen in ages – you make an effort to meet up and have a ball. There’s stories shared – laughter, tears drama, the everyday & the big events. There’s disbelief that it’s been so long and promises to do it again soon. Then suddenly a year has passed and you realise you’ve not seen them in ages…

You see, I never read poetry. But I do really like it.

But I never quite know what to read or when – how to choose? Read as a collection, as a whole book like a novel? Or one a day – but when in the day? And which one?

When I started this post, it was going to be something else but as I started writing, it changed and a plan evolved:

I’m going to tackle my long distance love affair with poetry on here. Instead of an annual National Poetry Day (well, ok, as well as) I’ll have a weekly one (Thursday Verse-day?! That’s awful – ideas for a catchy title welcome!)

Each Thursday, I’ll share a poem and/or post something poetry related.

I’m hoping you’ll join in – feel free to share a poem yourself and link back here, or comment on the one I share!

To kick off, I’ll share this one by Sharon Owens. It’s been shared a fair bit on twitter which is where it caught my eye. I especially liked the last 3 lines. What do you think of it?

How do you feel about poetry – do you read it? Do you have any favourite poems or poets?