Pascale Petit

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Pascale Petit portrait by Kitty Sullivan

Pascale Petit (born 1953) is a poet. She was born in Paris and grew up in France and Wales. She trained as a sculptor at the Royal College of Art and was a visual artist for the first part of her life. She has travelled widely, particularly in the Venezuelan Amazon and China.

She has published five poetry collections: Heart of a Deer (1998), The Zoo Father (2001), The Huntress (2005), The Treekeeper's Tale (2008) and What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo (2010). She also published a pamphlet of poems The Wounded Deer: Fourteen Poems after Frida Kahlo (2005).


Petit's The Zoo Father was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo, The Huntress and The Zoo Father were all shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize and were books of the year in The Observer, Times Literary Supplement and the Independent. What the Water Gave Me was shortlisted for the Wales Book of the Year. Petit has been shortlisted for the Forward Prize and in 2001 she was one of ten poets commissioned by BBC Radio 4 to write a poem for National Poetry Day. In 2004, she was selected by the Poetry Book Society as one of the Next Generation poets. The Zoo Father is published in a bilingual edition in Mexico and distributed in Spain and Latin America. She has received many awards, including three from Arts Council England and two from the Society of Authors. Her poems have been translated into eighteen languages. She has translated poems of a number of contemporary Chinese poets including Yang Lian, Wang Xiaoni and Zhai Yongming. She was Poetry Editor of Poetry London from 1990–2005 and a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Middlesex University from 2007–2009. She tutors poetry courses for Tate Modern, the Arvon Foundation, The Poetry School and the Taliesin Trust. She is currently the Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the Courtauld Institute of Art.

The Australian poet Les Murray has praised her work in the Times Literary Supplement, where he wrote: "No other British poet I am aware of can match the powerful mythic imagination of Pascale Petit." Jackie Kay in The Observer wrote "Pascale's poems are as fresh as paint, and make you look all over again at Frida and her brilliant and tragic life." Ruth Padel, reviewing What the Water Gave Me – Poems after Frida Kahlo in The Guardian wrote "Petit's collection is not a verse biography, but a hard-hitting, palette-knife evocation of the effect that bus crash had on Kahlo's life and work. "And this is how I started painting. / Time stretched out its spectrum / and screeched its brakes." WH Auden, in his elegy for Yeats, tells the Irish poet: "Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry." Petit's collection, exploring the way trauma hurts an artist into creation, celebrates the rebarbative energy with which Kahlo redeemed pain and transformed it into paint."

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Icefall Climbing pamphlet (Smith Doorstop, 1994)
  • Heart of a Deer (Enitharmon, 1998)
  • Tying the Song Co-editor with Mimi Khalvati (Enitharmon, 2000)
  • The Zoo Father (Seren, 2001)
  • El Padre Zoológico/The Zoo Father (El Tucan, Mexico City, 2004)
  • The Huntress (Seren, 2005)
  • The Wounded Deer: Fourteen poems after Frida Kahlo pamphlet (Smith Doorstop, 2005)
  • The Treekeeper's Tale (Seren, 2008)
  • What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo (Seren, UK, 2010, Black Lawrence Press, US, 2011)
  • Poetry from Art at Tate Modern editor, pamphlet (Tate Publications, 2010)

Awards, prizes and fellowships[edit]

  • 2000 – 'The Strait-Jackets' (from The Zoo Father) shortlisted for Forward Best Single Poem Prize
  • 2001 – New London Writers' Award
  • 2001 – Arts Council England Writers' Award
  • 2001 – The Zoo Father Poetry Book Society Recommendation
  • 2001 – The Zoo Father shortlisted for T.S. Eliot Prize
  • 2005 – The Huntress shortlisted for T.S. Eliot Prize
  • 2005 – Arts Council England Grants for the Arts Award
  • 2006 – Arts Council England Grants for the Arts Award
  • 2006 – Society of Author's Author's Foundation Award
  • 2007–2009 – Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Middlesex University
  • 2010 – What the Water Gave Me shortlisted for T.S. Eliot Prize
  • 2011 – What the Water Gave me shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year
  • 2011 – Royal Literary Fund Fellowship at Courtauld Institute of Art

External links[edit]