Tag: Poems

Review: Fierce fairytales by Nikita Gill

28 mei 19
Roos Bergers
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The first time I heard about Nikita Gill was when a friend read Your soul is a river. She was absolutely amazed by this book, so I intended to read it. It happened to be that I came across Fierce fairytales – Poems and stories to stir your soul first, so this is the first book that I read of the author. Will this book make me want to read more of the author? Find out below!

Book cover

Traditional fairytales are rife with cliches and gender stereotypes: beautiful, silent princesses; ugly, jealous, and bitter villainesses; girls who need rescuing; and men who take all the glory.

But in this rousing new prose and poetry collection, Nikita Gill gives Once Upon a Time a much-needed modern makeover. Through her gorgeous reimagining of fairytale classics and spellbinding original tales, she dismantles the old-fashioned tropes that have been ingrained in our minds. In this book, gone are the docile women and male saviors. Instead, lines blur between heroes and villains. You will meet fearless princesses, a new kind of wolf lurking in the concrete jungle, and an independent Gretel who can bring down monsters on her own.

Complete with beautifully hand-drawn illustrations by Gill herself, Fierce Fairytales is an empowering collection of poems and stories for a new generation.

My first impression

Yasss, this is so cool! Short poems and stories on fairytales, but different. The women are empowered and well… fierce. I love where this is going and which message it sends across. I am sure that people who believe that women only need to be pretty and silent are not going to like this book.

The story

As mentioned above, the book consist of short poems and stories about a variety of fairytales. It breaks with traditional gender roles. What I absolutely loved was the “Ode to the cat caller on the street” in which she responds to a cat caller:

‘I have no regrets for using my words
like they are ammo to keep men like you at bay.
And if anyone asks me why I did it, I will tell them,
‘He was asking for it, did you not see what he was wearing,
he wanted it that way.’

This shows perfectly the stupidity of men saying a girl deserves being catcalled or worse, just because of what she is wearing.

The book doesn’t only write about women’s roles though, it also acknowledges that men are raised a certain way and that they are allowed to have emotions too. It acknowledges both expectations of men and women by society. A main theme in the book is about women standing up for themselves and having more currency than their beauty. The poems and short stories are brilliantly crafted and point out societal problems. The message is not to wait for anyone to come save you, but to save yourself – for you are fierce.

My opinion

I completed this book in just two sittings (it doesn’t have that many pages anyway). Honestly, I just simply LOVE it! Can’t wait to read more of this author. It is a very relevant book and I think it’s very original that fairytales are recreated. I love how Nikita Gill pinpoints societal problems without pointing fingers. To me, she urges everyone to be the best and powerful they can be without waiting to be “saved” by others.

Conclusion of Fierce fairytales – Poems and stories to stir your soul

She breaks with traditional roles by explaining the traditional fairytales in a different and modern way. I absolutely enjoyed the book and I recommend it for anyone interested in empowerment and gender roles. I am definitely going to try out her other books.


Event: An evening with T.S. Eliot at Waterstones, Amsterdam

01 okt 16
Roos Bergers
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An evening with T.S. Eliot

Last Tuesday I went to the event “An evening with T.S. Eliot” at one of my favorite bookstores: Waterstones in Amsterdam. Of course, it was not an actual evening with T.S. Eliot for obvious reasons. However, guest speaker Jim McCue, co-editor of The Collected Poems of T.S. Eliot gave a talk on the brilliance of his poems.



It’s safe to say that Waterstones is my favorite English bookstore in the Netherlands. This British retailer opened its doors at the Kalverstraat in 1998, lucky us! The staff is very knowledgable and they always provide me with great advice. Believe me, it is very difficult to leave the store without having bought at least one book. I was not aware that Waterstones also organized events, but thanks to Facebook I discovered that they actually do. When I was notified on an event on T.S. Eliot I knew I had to join, so I did!

The event

The event was held at the third floor of the bookstore, so I was immediately inspired, being surrounded by all those books and all. Because they were so kind to let everybody in, some of us had to sit on the floor but the lecture was worth the slight discomfort. Jim McCue gave us a unique glimpse in the mind of T.S. Eliot. He worked for nine years on The Collected Poems of T.S. Eliot together with Christopher Ricks, which resulted in two books.  I was in awe by some of the explanations Jim McCue gave us. For example, in one poem two words don’t rhyme, of which one is the word “question”. The reason for this is that the question should remain unanswered. How brilliant is that? If you are an admirer of T.S. Eliot and you want to know more about these little amazing facts, you should really buy these books (and preferably at Waterstones of course) 😉


The books

Are you curious yet? Faber & Faber explain the books very wel:

The Poems of T. S. Eliot is the authoritative edition of one of our greatest poets, scrupulously edited by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue. It provides, for the first time, a fully scrutinized text of Eliot’s poems, carefully restoring accidental omissions and removing textual errors that have crept in over the full century in which Eliot has been so frequently printed and reprinted. The edition also presents many poems from Eliot’s youth which were published only decades later, as well as others that saw only private circulation in his lifetime, of which dozens are collected for the first time.

Thank you

I would like to thank Waterstones and Jim McCue for the insightful evening. I am not an expert on T.S. Eliot, but I know for sure that I will dig deeper into his poems. Moreover, if there ever is another inspiring event, I will be there.