Mama Amazonica

Mama Amazonica (Bloodaxe, September 2017)

Poetry Book Society Choice

Mama Amazonica is Pascale Petit’s seventh poetry collection, published by Bloodaxe in September 2017 and is a Poetry Book Society Choice.

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. The cover design is by Dragana Nikolic.

Black Caiman with Butterflies

Depression is a black caiman
lying on the sand,

mud-slicked from the deep,
impassive in her armour.

Nothing can get through to her,
she’ll lie there for hours, unblinking.

How to explain then
the appearance of butterflies?

Sparking flambeaux, snowy-whites,
at the corner of her eyes,

as if the beauty of the world has come
to perch on her, to drink her tears.


Poems from the book have appeared in numerous magazines, including, New Humanist, The Normal School, Ploughshares, Poem, Poetry, Poetry London, The Poetry Review, and Quadrant. The manuscript in progress was awarded an Arts Council England grant, to complete the book and for a trip to the Peruvian Amazon.

Here is another poem ‘My Wolverine’ filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce for Bloodaxe

An essay about Mama Amazonica, ‘Poetry as Exorcism’, is published in the spring 2015 issue of Mslexia:

‘Poetry as Exorcism’ Mslexia spring 2015

Read the essay here, click on images to enlarge:

Mslexia feature Poetry as Exorcism 2015Mslexia feature Poetry as Exorcism 2015 - page 2