Nikita Gill is one of the first modern poets who’s work I delved into when I first started getting into poetry. I remember seeing some of her work online years ago but it weren’t until I read Wild Embers that I really became entranced by her words. As I’ve mentioned here before, I got into poetry during the very beginning of the pandemic, when the world stopped and emotionally I just felt numb; and consequently didn’t know what to do with myself. Nikita Gill’s Wild Embers: Poems of rebellion, fire and beauty served as a welcome distraction and so I escaped into a new world of modern poetry.
I wanted to share a few books by Gill that I’ve read and fell in love with over the past couple of years
As I mentioned above, this was my first experience of Gill’s work: a collection of both poetry and prose. There’s a strong sense of validation and empowerment to her work. The language is both gentle and fierce, charged with so much emotion whether it be recognition, anger, rage, love, empowerment… I could go on. I also think her choice of words works beautifully in this work as it’s lyrical and there’s a musicality to the language which is incredibly moving at times. I love the themes she uses, especially those of rebellion and revolution; they definitely light that fire in you which is such a powerful thing. I also really appreciate Gill’s comparisons to nature and universe, an ongoing tool she’s also used in her other works, and how it relates to our acceptance and growth in personal ways. I think I’d characterise this work as very much ‘self-care-poetry‘: I cannot tell you how much solace and comfort that it brought me.
I had such a huge appreciation for her revisited, or should I say rewritten, fairytales and goddesses in her writing. She slightly changes the classic tales from mythology and princesses to show them in a feminist light and highlight how toxic society can be – which was so refreshing and truly enjoyable to read. I hate to leave this section on a bad note but my only little niggle was the fact that it was slightly repetitive in areas. Rather than a growing development and ‘journey’ through the different themes, it became tiresome as it flipped back and forth and dwelled on some of them. Ultimately though, I would say that this is a great first read to test the waters with Gill’s work and I’d definitely recommend it to any avid poetry reader or poet themselves.
This is Gill’s most recent book off poetry and my second read of her work. Written as the world went into lockdown, there’s strong themes of loneliness and mental health throughout it. I found it incredibly poignant as it explores so many emotions that we, as a collective society, experienced to such extremes through this period of time. It explored the moments of isolation, fear and despair, hopelessness and hurt, depression and darkness, and anxiety and exhaustion. As I mentioned previously Nikita Gill’s work always seems to have strong imagery of the universe throughout, but this book also included imagery of constellations and the universe which was a nice change. I think the majority of us had a tough time through the lockdowns especially the very beginning of the pandemic, however I think even if you had an easy time and breezed through it, you’d be hard pressed not to feel touched and emotional from Gill’s work depicting this time. I personally found it a bit too much at times. I read this as they started to slowly ease our third lockdown and while there seemed to be light at the end of the tunnel, it definitely didn’t feel like we were out of the woods; so at times I had to put the book down for awhile to recharge before I could continue on.
I only had a few issues with this book. While I did find it inspirational and it created a sense of hope and optimism towards the end, at times it was a bit too spiritual and godly for my liking but I wouldn’t say this ruined my reading of the book as a whole. Also I’d say sometimes it read more so as affirmations than poetry which, while still powerful, wasn’t what I expected or wanted from this book.
This is the most recent book of Gill’s work that I have read. I found it quite a cathartic read as it definitely explores a lot of wounds and trauma, especially that of mental health. I felt as though it took me to the darker, more damaged parts of myself and then gave me safe and more comforting words to heal. I definitely felt like this book was more of a journey than the other books above. It had a bit more melancholy to it and was very much a ‘wallow-hollow’; which looking back felt as though it tore you down to build you back up. Having said this, there’s a connection through the trauma and turmoil that these poems explore which I think many could relate to. It deals themes such as trauma, healing, self-care and hope so I think it would appeal to a wider range of readers, across all age-groups.
This book is split into eight sections, The Anguish, The Descent, The Acceptance, The Defiance, The Survival, The Worship, The Wonder, and The Beginning, which makes it a bit easier to pick up and put down as and when you need to. Gill also draws on the classic Greek Gods and mythology in The Worship section of this book too, such as Narcissus, the Minotaur, Athena & Medusa, Orpheus & Eurydice, etc, which is a nice layer to the book. Overall, I loved this book. The language was simple but used with such weighty subject matters and themes that it felt like an extremely profound experience. I think the simplicity of Nikita Gill’s language too adds to an effortless effect; it hits all the right notes without trying.
While I loved all of the books above, and no doubt will return to them at some point, I think Wild Embers was my favourite of Gill’s work so far however, that is probably more so to do with where we all were with the pandemic and how that started my love of modern poetry at the time. I look back on it fondly and even now still have a flick through it’s pages occasionally, reading a piece here and there. I’d recommend any of these works, or any of her other works too – she is truly talented!
Have you read any of these books? What did you think?
Cheerio for now!
((If you are a Nikita Gill fan, I’d recommend you listen to her as a guest on the Saturn Returns with Caggie Podcast, hosted by Caggie Dunlop. I love the podcast anyway but listening to Nikita Gill talk about poetry as a form of self-expression and how you can create beautiful things through your more painful experiences was so inspiring. I’d definitely recommend you give it a listen)).