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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 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 has published six previous poetry collections, four of which have been shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize, most recently, her sixth collection, Fauverie (Seren, 2014). A portfolio of poems from this book won the 2013 Manchester Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of a 2015 Cholmondeley Award from the Society of Authors 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, and Mexico. 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. In 2004 the Poetry Book Society selected Petit as one of the Next Generation Poets. Petit has received six major awards from Arts Council England. The Zoo Father was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. A poem from the book, 'The Strait-Jackets', was shortlisted for a Forward Prize. A Spanish/English edition is published in Mexico and Spain, an illustrated Serbian edition in Belgrade, and her selected poems Fauverie are published in a bilingual edition in China. She was Poetry Editor of Poetry London from 1989 to 2005 and is a co-founding tutor of The Poetry School. She has co-edited Tying the Song (Enitharmon, 2000) the first anthology from 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 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.


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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