Feather coats and friendship: Poietic space in Claire Massey’s ‘Feather Girls’ | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 2, Issue 1-2
  • ISSN: 2043-0701
  • E-ISSN: 2043-071X


The position of the author in a literary fairy tale is ambiguous; either they can control the text to suit their purposes and force their style of morality on their readers, or they can enter into friendship with their text and their readers on a joint search for wonder. Developing the educational theories of Parker J. Palmer, this article suggests a concept of the fairy tale as poietic space, textual dialogue arising from a ‘knowledge born of compassion’ rather than violence or control. It uses this theory to discuss Claire Massey’s short story ‘Feather Girls’ (2010), a re-imagining of the swan maiden tale type (AaTh 400). Massey is rapidly emerging as one of the most significant authors of her generation, and her work deserves close critical attention. In particular, this article addresses how Massey uses bird metamorphosis to re-imagine and reconstruct gender dynamics, femininity and motherhood in the fairy tale tradition.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): Claire Massey; fairy tale; feminism; metamorphosis; motherhood; narrative
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