Pascale Petit was born in Paris and grew up in France and Wales. She has published six poetry collections. Her sixth, Fauverie (Seren, 2014), was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize. A portfolio of poems from this book won the 2013 Manchester Poetry Prize. 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 TS 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 TS 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. Her books have been translated into many languages.
“Pascale Petit’s Fauverie is astonishing, one of those books that breaks new ground in how to approach writing about the unwritable.” – Ruth Padel
Buy Fauverie from SEREN BOOKS
Each time I open it I feel like a Matsés girl
handed a parcel at the end of her seclusion,
my face pierced by jaguar whiskers
to make me brave.
I know what’s inside – that I must
unwrap the envelope of leaves
until all that’s left
squirming in my hands
is an electric eel.
The positive head, the negative tail,
the rows of batteries under the skin,
the small, almost blind eyes.
The day turns murky again,
I’m wading through the bottom of my life
when my father’s letter arrives. And keeps on arriving.
The charged fibres of paper
against my shaking fingers,
the thin electroplates of ink.
The messenger drags me up to the surface
to gulp air then flicks its anal fin.
Never before has a letter been so heavy,
growing to two metres in my room,
the address, the phone number, then the numbness –
I know you must be surprised, it says,
but I will die soon and want to make contact.
from Fauverie (Seren, 2014)