Mama Amazonica


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Table of Contents

11 Mama Amazonica 14 Jaguar Girl 17 Rainforest in the Sleep Room 19 Macaw Mummy 20 Taxidermy 21 Love Charm 22 My Mother's Wedding Dress 23 Chaplet 24 Something Blue 25 Bestarium 26 Bandaged Bambi 27 Love Charm II 28 He Gives Her a Nightdress Sheer as a Mist-Net 29 Giant Jewel Beetle Ear-Pendants 30 Miscarriage 31 Serpentarium 34 El Hombre Caiman 36 Precious Goliath Beetle 37 Buck 38 The Birth of Jaguar Girl 40 My Amazonian Birth 44 Hummingbird Birth 47 L'Assistance Publique 48 Harpy Eagle Mama 49 Baby Caimans 51 Musica Mundana 52 Limed Blossoms 54 My Mother's Dressing Gown 56 Square de la Place Dupleix 57 Her Harpy Eagle Claws 58 Madre de Dios 60 Fossa 63 Anaconda 64 Black Caiman with Butterflies 65 Extrapyramidal Side Effects 68 Terribilis 69 Jaguar Mama 72 Bottled Macaw 74 Waterlily-Jaguar 76 Scarlet Macaws 78 Rio Tambopata 79 Uirapuru and the Tangarana Tree 80 Corpse Flower 81 My Mother's Love 82 When My Mother Became a Boa 84 Mama Ferox 86 The Hospital Haircut 88 Zarafa the First Giraffe in France 90 Great Grey Owl 91 Ocelot 92 Kapok 93 Ah Puch 95 Snow Leopard Woman 96 In the Giraffe House 97 Mama Macaw 98 Rebirth of the Rainforest 99 My Wolverine 100 The Hummingbird Whisperer 101 Mama Oceana 102 Musician-Wren 103 King Vultures 106 The Hummingbird Nest 109 Acknowledgements

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 eighth collection, Tiger Girl (2020), won an RSL Literature Matters Award while in progress, and a poem from the book won the 2020 Keats-Shelley Poetry Prize. Tiger Girl was shortlisted for the 2020 Forward Prize for Best Collection. Her seventh collection Mama Amazonica (Bloodaxe Books, 2017), a Poetry Book Society Choice, won the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2018 and the Laurel Prize 2020, and was shortlisted for the Roehampton Poetry Prize 2018. She has published six previous poetry collections, four of which were shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize, most recently, her sixth collection, Fauverie (Seren, 2014). A portfolio of poems from that book won the 2013 Manchester Poetry Prize. In 2018 she was appointed as Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She received a Cholmondeley Award from the Society of Authors in 2015, and was the chair of the judges for the 2015 T.S. Eliot Prize. Her books have been translated into Spanish, Chinese, Serbian and French. She is widely travelled in the Peruvian and Venezuelan Amazon, China, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Mexico and India. 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 and Wales Book of the Year. Two of her previous books, The Zoo Father and The Huntress, were also shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize.


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 * 2018 Ondaatje Prize judge *
Petit won [the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2018] for her glittering and breathtakingly fearless book of poems, Mama Amazonica, which marks the first time that poetry has beaten novels and travelogues in this category... In just 112 pages, Petit creates a work of indelible power and tragic, dramatic force. -- Nilanjana Roy * Financial Times *
Since 2001, when Pascale Petit published The Zoo Father, her greatest, most singular achievement has been to tackle difficult subject matter head-on while simultaneously distancing herself from it through the use of exotic metaphor. The distancing is crucial. It lies at the core of her method, and has enabled her to procure poems of a raw, almost ecstatic, beauty and, to paraphrase Ruth Padel, to write the unwritable. In this, her seventh extraordinary collection, possibly her most integrated book so far, this sort of elongated lens is much in evidence... 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 *

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