Glorious Margins - Writing to heal with Nikita Gill

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By 2017-07-19

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By Isurinie Mallawarachchi

Have you ever come across a moment where you are rather emotional, and then you go on social media to find a piece that describes your mental state, just as it is? There is a high chance that it was written by her. Nikita Gill's writing is shared and re-shared to such extent if I bring up a piece that she has written it is very likely that you have read it before, at some point in your social media voyage. While the poems and prose pieces written by Gill touch our hearts in inexplicable ways, one could also say that the poet is rather unnoticed. In today's 'Glorious Margins', I look at Nikita Gill's poems and prose pieces, and their simple-yet-powerful quality.

Based in London, Nikita Gill is of Indian origin. Her debut poetry collection, 'Your Soul Is a River' was published last year, and the next is expected to come out in November. The striking factor about Gill's pieces is that they are written in a manner that would inspire, and invoke self-love among the readers. It is as if this Instapoet, who considers herself a feminist, is determined to continue the tradition of her father to encourage people constantly and persuading them to have faith for a better world; "I am a feminist writer that likes to focus on empowering women through poetry," she once said, "I was very lucky to have a progressive father who always told me I am a lioness, not to ever let anyone tell me that I am less. You'll see that image a lot in my poetry."

Many poems by Gill are written in the form of addressing someone, and the quality of comparing the addressee to a powerful figure like her father compared her to a lioness can be observed. Her poem named 'The Predators inside You', opens with the lines, "Listen, girl, |There is nothing fragile about you |Inside you rest a host of predators |waiting to be unleashed at your command", emphasizing the above-stated quality of her poetry. Many of her poems are written for women, although their thematic concerns could be enjoyed by women and men alike.

In 'The Predator inside You', she encourages the reader to contain the characteristics traditionally assigned to the predator animals; she insists them to sting like a scorpion, be fierce like a lioness and bring up equally fierce cubs, be vigilant like a shark and to slither past the enemies like a cobra. In the present feminist discourse, we come across concepts such as mansplaining and infantilization of women; A male explains something to a woman in a condescending manner and treating women in such a way that denies their age and maturity are commonplace, but hardly recognized. A woman can be in a number of situations where she is being told that she is fragile and weak, merely because of her femaleness. Scorpion, cobra, shark and lioness are not animals that are associated with stereotypical femininity. Incorporation of these images to address a girl, in this respect, is a powerful message to resist the negativity that comes along with patriarchy.

Gill's other poems, 'Too Much, Before You, The Girl who was Afraid to Be' are written in a similar vein; they discuss the importance of resisting emotional abuse and preserving the individuality of a woman.

Speaking of the immense popularity that Nikita Gill's pieces have gained, one such piece that stole the digital limelight of Facebook and Instagram alike is 'Tiny Stories'. "The saddest word in the whole wide world is almost" she writes, and elaborates on the way romantic relationships and various heart-felt events in life is 'nearly' fulfilled, without being complete. Amidst her apparent feminist bent, Gill's poetic pieces revolve around the themes of love and heartbreak.

Love, through myriad of forms that it takes, could leave indelible imprints on us that can be either endearing or heart-wrenching. In 'Sorry', Gill writes, "I am sorry someone loved you badly | and that they made you feel like | you take up more space than you deserve". A deep emotional bond with a person that manifests itself as love, could end in emotional abuse, where the abused constantly feels guilty and anxious. The poem is able to capture these sentiments from an observer's perspective, while unveiling a sense of empathy that runs deep. Interestingly, commenting on what influences her, Gill once said that her "greatest influence is empathy and my greatest teacher is experience," which is evident in this poem.

A remarkable factor I have observed in Nikita Gill's writing is the uncanny resemblance each piece has with the other; whether it is on heartbreak or love or individual plight of women, they are written to heal. Filled with recurring images of nature, historical figures and mythology, Gill's poetry has the rare quality of reaching out to the reader in a way that they feel healed and empowered.

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