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. Winner of the inaugural Laurel Prize in 2020, 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.
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