Mama Amazonica is Pascale Petit’s seventh poetry collection, published by Bloodaxe in 2017.
‘Mama Amazonica stitches parallels between the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and a mother and daughter’s experience of mental illness. Alvi says: “We felt that in creating this duality she might have achieved what should have been impossible.” – Moniza Alvi, Judge, The Laurel Prize
‘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 (judge for the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2018)
‘The poems take you to a place where language feeds on language… no one writing in English today comes anywhere near the exuberance of Pascale Petit. 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 (judge for the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2018)
‘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 (judge for the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2018)
‘Pascale Petit’s Mama Amazonica powerfully twists together fantasy and experience. Over a sustained sequence of poems, Petit transfigures her mother’s desperate and disturbed life through fabulous imagery of the rainforest and its flora and fauna, moving towards a kind of extreme, Ovidian release into metamorphosis. It won the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize this year, a first for a book of poetry.’ – Marina Warner, The Tablet (Books of the Year 2018)