UNCG Research

Feral Fairy Tales

Whitaker’s award-winning first collection of poetry “The Blue Hour”

Posted on Tuesday, April 25th, 2017 by UNCG Research.

Cover art from "The Blue Hour" by Jennifer Whitaker

Redacted from the fall 2016 Research Magazine

In her first collection of poetry, “The Blue Hour,” English professor Jennifer Whitaker uses dark fairy tale imagery as a vehicle to explore complicated human experiences, such as familial abuse, incest, and remorse.

The book won the 2016 Brittingham Prize in Poetry.

Whitaker took inspiration for the volume from 17th century author Giambattista Basile, whose brand of grim fairy tales have both frightened and inspired audiences for centuries.

The beauty of fairy tales, says Whitaker, is that they use pronounced emotions that offer an emotional inroad to nearly anyone. “They appeal to something universal — ‘capital letter’ emotions.”

The central narrator meditates on terror and despair, as characters are dragged through the woods, a severed goat head speaks, and a daughter must choose what to wear to her wicked father’s funeral. The moments of violence and beauty, tension and release, mirror the girl’s struggle to reconcile the love and hate she feels for her father.

“It was my attempt to hold, at one moment, father as creator and as predator,” says Whitaker. “Fairy tales are my way of dealing with that complexity.”


Learn more at https://english.uncg.edu

“Feral Fairy Tales” by Daniel Wirtheim originally appeared in the fall 2016 Research Magazine