Petit, Pascale 1953–
Petit, Pascale 1953–
PERSONAL: Born 1953, in Paris, France; daughter of Michel and Muriel (McCarthy) Petit. Education: Gloucestershire College of Art and Technology, England, B.A.; Royal College of Art, London, England, M.A. Hobbies and other interests: Visiting art exhibits, travel.
ADDRESSES: Home—26 Clacton Rd., London E17 8AR, England.
CAREER: Writer, poet, editor, and educator. Poetry London (magazine), London, England, cofounder, editor, 1989–2005; Poetry School, cofounder, tutor, 1997–2000, 2007–. Member of the Poet to Poet translation project in China.
AWARDS, HONORS: Forward Prize for Best Single Poem shortlist, 2000; New London Writers's Award, 2001; Independent Book of the Year, 2001, Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year, 2001, Writers' Award, Arts Council of England, 2001, and T.S. Eliot Prize shortlist, 2002, both for The Zoo Father; "Next Generation Poets" selection, Arts Council and Poetry Book Society, 2004; Arts Council of England Award, 2005, for Poet-to-Poet translation project in China; T.S. Eliot Prize shortlist, and Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year designation, both 2005, both for The Huntress.
Heart of a Deer, Enitharmon Press (London, England), 1998.
(Editor, with Mimi Khalvati) Tying the Song: A First Anthology from the Poetry School, 1997–2000, Enitharmon Press (London, England), 2000.
The Zoo Father, Seren (Bridgend, Wales), 2001, bilingual edition published as El Padre Zoológico/The Zoo Father El Tucan (Mexico City, Mexico), 2004.
The Huntress, Seren (Bridgend, Wales), 2005.
The Wounded Deer: Fourteen Poems after Frida Kahlo, Smith Doorstop, 2005.
Contributor of poems to periodicals.
SIDELIGHTS: Pascale Petit is a poet who served for more than a decade as the editor of Poetry London. Her second collection of poetry, The Zoo Father, contains two groups of poems that are often stark and brutal in nature. The first section of the collection features jungle metaphors in poems such as "King Vulture Father" and "Self-Portrait as a Were-Jaguar." Jehane Markham, in an Ambit review reproduced on the Poetry Library Web site, commented: "A menagerie of cruel and violent creatures … reveal the fractured interior world of someone who has suffered sexual abuse as a child." The collection's second part features poems focusing on the author's mother and, according to Markham "has a softer tone." Writing on the University of Cambridge's Literary References, an online contributor commented: "If you can kick off a collection with a piece as good as 'The Strait-Jackets' you can't go far wrong." In the collection titled The Huntress, Petit writes about how family members interact and influence each other, with many of the poems featuring a mother figure that appears variously in different animal guises. "No other British poet I am aware of can match the powerful mythic imagination of Pascale Petit," wrote Les Murray in a review of The Huntress for the London Times Online.
Petit told CA: "I was trained as a sculptor and am very aware when making a poem of the poem as a physical and visceral object, of image-making. Keats was a profound influence on me at school, especially his idea of the mansions of the mind. I started writing poems to make mansions in my imagination that I could live in as an alternative home. I wanted them to be as rich as the 'real' world.
"Both The Zoo Father and The Huntress draw on my deep interest in indigenous peoples of the Amazon and Central America, and on my travels there and researches in anthropology. I found myself fascinated by ethical questions debated about the Yanomami, Shuar/Jivaru tribes, and, in The Huntress, about the Aztecs. I transposed imagery and rituals from these tribes to my poems. This was an instinctive process, but it raised issues for me about the essential goodness of people even at their worst. I am also interested in shamanism and animism."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 1999, review of Heart of a Deer, pp. 1679–1680.
Times Literary Supplement, March 29, 2002, Sian Hughes, "Daddy, I'm Through," p. 24.
Literary References Online (University of Cambridge), http://www2.eng.cam.ac.uk/∼tpl/lit/reviews.html (January 19, 2005), review of The Zoo Father.
Poetry Library, http://www.poetrymagazines.org.uk/ (January 19, 2005), Jehane Markham, Ambit review of The Zoo Father.
Times Online, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/ (February 17, 2005), Les Murray, review of The Huntress.