In the Autumn of 2020 we are hosting a series of Borrowed Time interviews / conversations with significant voices speaking to our discussion of death and dying. Each of these events takes place on a Friday lunchtime UK time to allow as many participants from other countries as time zones will reasonably allow. Each lasts around an hour and time will be set aside for audience questions and comments.
We are delighted to open the series with a conversation between poet Pascale Petit and Borrowed Time convenor Mat Osmond at 13.00GMT on Friday October 30, 2020.
Mat Osmond says:
‘Previous collections of Pascale’s – especially The Zoo Father and Mama Amazonica – have affected me powerfully in their mingling of personal and familial trauma with the all-encompassing mystery of the non-human world. Having sometimes found eco-poetry to be a quite dry affair, not always connected with the mess and confusion of our emotional lives, Pascale’s poems have given me a new take on what this term can and does include. I’ve long been interested in how artists and thinkers who’ve suffered intense human cruelties in their childhood – Derrick Jensen and Mary Oliver both come to mind – have found a healing for, or maybe just a holding of this in turning to the non-human biosphere. Pascale’s newest collection Tiger Girl has returned me to these themes very powerfully, especially to the obscene cruelty human beings are capable of – in their treatment of non-human life, and of each other. With no clear solution or fix on offer to the ubiquitous presence of such casual monstrosity, why am I so helped by hearing voices like Pascale’s witness to it? One idea around this that’s come to the fore in the last couple of years is to rebel. What does it mean for writers and artists to declare themselves in rebellion in the face of ecocide? I’m looking forward to Pascale joining us to speak about these and other questions. ‘
Pascale Petit FRSL was born in Paris, grew up in France and Wales and lives in Cornwall. She is of French/Welsh/Indian heritage. Her eighth collection, Tiger Girl (Bloodaxe Books, 2020), celebrates her Indian grandmother’s life, and is an urgent prayer to save the tiger forests and their endangered creatures, a search for hope despite poaching and extinctions. As Daljit Nagra, reviewing it on Front Row, has said, it pitches “a family in crisis against a planet in crisis”. It was shortlisted for the 2020 Forward Prize for Best Collection, and a poem from the book won the 2020 Keats-Shelley Poetry Prize. Her previous collection, Mama Amazonica (Bloodaxe Books, 2017), won the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2018, was a Poetry Book Society Choice, and was shortlisted for the Inaugural Laurel Prize 2020. She published six earlier collections, four of which were shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. Her books have been translated into Spanish, Chinese, Serbian and French. Trained as a sculptor at the Royal College of Art, Pascale spent the first part of her life as a visual artist.
[main image: Pascale Petit (detail); biopic: Brian Fraser]