Pascale Petit's seventh poetry collection, Mama Amazonica (Bloodaxe, 2017) won the 2018 RSL Ondaatje prize, was shortlisted for the Roehampton Poetry Prize and was a Poetry Book Society Choice. Her sixth collection, Fauverie, was her fourth to be shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize and a portfolio of poems from it won the 2013 Manchester Poetry Prize. T. S. Eliot shortlisted What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo (Seren, 2010), was also shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year.
'No one writing in English today comes anywhere near the exuberance of Pascale Petit. Rarely has the personal and environmental lament found such imaginative fusion, such outlandish and shocking expression that is at once spectacularly vigorous, intimate
and heartbroken.’ – Daljit Nagra (on behalf of the judges for the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2018)
‘Mama Amazonica is an unforgettable read – rich with metaphor, the poems explode on the page with the multiple narratives of motherhood, illness, pain, and redemption. All of this set in a rainforest that is both mythic and vividly alive. This is a book that feels almost magical in its unlikeliness, and that for me is what made it a clear winner.’ – Tahmima Anam (judge for the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2018)
‘In Pascale Petit’s evocations, the Amazon rainforest comes alive, with human characters as much a part of nature as the creatures and plants living there – alluring
and frightening, violent and vulnerable, dangerous and endangered. A feat of imaginative intensity, this is also an act of reckoning and reparation, in which deep empathy
for a disturbed mother is transmuted into the exacting beauty of poetic language.’ – Eva Hoffman (judge for the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2018)
‘This is a major literary feat, and this a brilliant sequence of poems. It burns in its own supranatural light.’ – Tim Liardet & Vona Groarke, PBS Bulletin (on Mama Amazonica)
‘In just 112 pages, Petit creates a work of indelible power and tragic, dramatic force…She is, it seems, an explorer of the imagination later shaped by the wild places she sought out, and through her poetry she changes how we see and understand the non-human world. I read Petit to be reminded that humans are also creatures of the wild, with our own hungers, claws and bestiaries.’ – Nilanjana Roy Financial Times, Books
'For those who have Pascale Petit in their pantheon of favourite British poets, her seventh collection, Mama Amazonica, will not disappoint. It vibrates with images that run before you like the last picture show... It is a portrait of art itself, though it be Coyoacán or Peruvian. The world is aroused, her imagination has widened the myth and the tropical groves hum.' – Lin van Hek, Quadrant
'The voice of Fauverie speaks both bravely and with bravura from the heart of its material. There is conspiracy in these poems and great beauty. They venture into the cellar of the past, summon up memory and conjure it into a firework display of metaphoric brilliance.' – Helen Dunmore, Chair of Judges, 2014 T. S. Eliot Prize, on Fauverie.
'Pascale's poems are as fresh as paint, and make you look all over again at Frida and her brilliant and tragic life.' - Jackie Kay The Observer, Book of the Year, on What the Water Gave Me.
'This arresting collection... exploring the way trauma hurts an artist into creation, celebrates the rebarbative energy with which Kahlo redeemed pain and transformed it into paint' - Ruth Padel, The Guardian, on What the Water Gave Me.
Petit has had three books which were Book of the Year in The Times Literary Supplement, The Independent and Observer. She trained as a sculptor at the Royal College of Art and was a visual artist for the first part of her life. In 2004 the Poetry Book Society selected her as one of the Next Generation Poets. She is widely travelled, including in the Peruvian and Venezuelan Amazon, China and Nepal, and led popular poetry courses at Tate Modern and for The Poetry School.
Find out more about her on her website http://www.pascalepetit.co.uk and blog http://www.pascalepetit.blogspot.com
Author photo credit Kaido Vainomaa