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Mama Amazonica is set in a psychiatric ward and in the Amazon rainforest, an asylum for animals on the brink of extinction. It reveals the story of Pascale Petit's mentally ill mother and the consequences of abuse. The mother transforms into a giant Victoria amazonica waterlily, and a bestiary of untameable creatures - a jaguar girl, a wolverine, a hummingbird - as she marries her rapist and gives birth to his children. From heartbreaking trauma, there emerge luxuriant and tender portraits of a woman battling for survival, in poems that echo the plight of others under duress, and of our companion species. Petit does not flinch from the violence but offers hope by celebrating the beauty of the wild, whether in the mind or the natural world. Mama Amazonica is Pascale Petit's seventh collection, and her first from Bloodaxe. Four of Pascale Petit's previous six collections have been shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. Mama Amazonica won the Royal Society of Literature's Ondaatje Prize 2018 - the first time a poetry book has won this prize for a work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry best evoking the spirit of a place, was shortlisted for the Roehampton Poetry Prize 2018, and was the Poetry Book Society Choice for autumn 2017.
Bloodaxe Books, 9781780372945, 112pp.
Publication Date: September 28, 2017
About the Author
Pascale Petit was born in Paris, grew up in France and Wales and lives in Cornwall. She is of French/Welsh/Indian heritage. Her seventh collection, Mama Amazonica (Bloodaxe Books, 2017) was Poetry Book Society Choice for Autumn 2017, was shortlisted for the Roehampton Poetry Prize 2018 and won the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2018. Her eighth collection, Tiger Girl, is due from Bloodaxe in 2020. She published six previous poetry collections. Her sixth, Fauverie (Seren, 2014), was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. Her fifth collection, What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo, published by Seren in 2010 (UK) and Black Lawrence Press in 2011 (US), was shortlisted for both the T.S. Eliot Prize, Wales Book of the Year, and was Jackie Kay's Book of the Year in the Observer. Two of her previous books, The Zoo Father and The Huntress, were also shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and were Books of the Year in the Times Literary Supplement and Independent. She was Poetry Editor of Poetry London from 1989 to 2005 and is a co-founding tutor of The Poetry School. Her poems have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4, The Poetry Archive and ABC Radio National, and published widely in journals around the world, including in Poetry, Poetry Review, American Poetry Review, Ploughshares and Quadrant. They have been translated into 18 languages. She taught popular poetry courses in the galleries at Tate Modern for nine years, and currently tutors for the Arvon Foundation and Ty Newydd. She was the Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the Courtauld Institute of Art 2011-12.