Mama Amazonica by Pascale Petit

Mama Amazonica by Pascale Petit

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From the publisher:

Winner of The Laurel Prize 2020

Winner of the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2018

Shortlisted for the Roehampton Poetry Prize 2018

Poetry Book Society Choice

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, and was shortlisted for the Roehampton Poetry Prize 2018.

The 2018 Ondaatje Prize judges Tahmima Anam, Eva Hoffman and Daljit Nagra commented:

'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

‘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

‘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

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