Pascale Petit (b. 1953), London-based poet and artist
Pascale Petit (b. 1953), London-based poet and artist

“To visit you Father, I wear a mask of fire ants.
When I sit waiting for you to explain . . .”
Self-Portrait with Fire Ants by Pascale Petit in The Zoo Father

I’ve been sitting on three reviews, not for any other reason than the want of time and breath to finalize them.

One review (coming soon) is of the latest issue of ARTEMISpoetry, a publication of Second Light Network. As always I am struck by the many gifts bequeathed to us by that association and publication, not the least being introductions to poets who may be new to us. In the latest issue, I know that one featured poet whose collections I must read is Pascale Petit.

Petit, a poet, artist and one-time sculptor, was interviewed in this issue of ArtemisPoetry by Adele Ward, the co-owner of Ward Wood Publishing and a poet and writer herself.

Petit has five published collections of poetry, the latest is What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo, which was shortlisted for both the T.S. Eliot Prize and Wales Book of the Year. There are a number of things that are drawing me to Pascale Petit’s work, not the least is this creation of a collection of poems after Frida Kahlo’s art. The very idea is attractive.

Unknown-4I am also drawn to The Zoo Father in which she developes the very private theme of child abuse. I believe such efforts require extraordinary grace and I want to see how Petit handles the matter.

Another attraction is related to my own arts community.There are some who argue against revealing too much that is personal and Adele Ward asks Petit about this very issue. Petit’s response is:

” . . . I don’t have a choice about my subject matter . . . It is important to me to be true to myself and write intensely because what I’m really interested in is writing about the awe and power of nature ~ human nature as well as animals and landscape. My personal themes allow me a way in to write intensely about awe and shock. Life is pretty shocking, the earth is awe-inspiring, and we perceive it as personal beings, however ‘other’ it is, and its otherness is compelling.” [Emphasis mine.]

I so agree … and honoring our personal themes is a ticket to ride, an antidote to stilted works and artistic blocks.

Further, I think one goal of art – both its creation and its consumption – is to introduce us to our own humanity. I don’t see how we can do that if the works we create and consume lack intimacy.

Petit’s sixth collection, Fauverie, will launch in September this year. You can sample her poems and her art by visiting her website HERE.

A review of What Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo is HERE.

Learn more about Second Light Network HERE.

© 2014, words, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; photograph by Kitty Sullivan under CC A-SA 3.0 License; cover art, Seren


  1. What a thought-provoking review. But isn’t that what writing is all about, no matter the genre. I struggle with how intimate my writing should be but agree with Petit that we need to live with integrity. It is scary to lay ourselves out there, when people we know are going to read it. But it is those writings that seem to touch others the most. As you say it is difficult to write about difficult topics without whining or preaching or offending. Writing about child abuse so people can hear is very difficult. I took a stab at it and would appreciate if you would take a look – I have liked how you write your personal reflections.


    1. Pat, thanks for such a detailed comment/feedback. I would like to read what you have written. Would you pop the link or the piece into an email.

      You have a point about “people we know” … and we haven’t even touched on not wanting to hurt anyone we know who might read the material. Ah, a subject to explore another day.

      Be well …
      Warmest regards,


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