Thursday, July 02, 2009

First Thoughts... on The Zoo Father et al

... are how disturbing I find the poems in this compact collection (but not in a bad way). I can see why The Zoo Father was much talked about when it came out. There's a fusion of personal mythology with a wider mythology which really works: it's scary in places and has you asking lots of questions, not just of the text, but of yourself too. It makes me excited by the possibilities of poetry: what you can do with material when you're not prepared to just go with ordinary face value.

It also makes me question what I'm doing in my own work - no bad thing. My own stuff has gotten steadily darker lately, and I was wondering if I was going the right way. I'm a bit obsessed with people who are fallen and implements of torture and it's all very heavy going at times. I know I haven't finished mining the present seam I'm excavating, and I can see that in Petit's work, the way that her themes continued into a follow-up collection, The Huntress.

I'm very excited by the pamphlet I got, The Wounded Deer, (only £3.00!) which will be developed into a full 50 poem collection, What The Water Gave Me, expected next year from Seren. I think that Pascale captures not only Frida Kahlo's voice, but the way that she made art, very well. I have a real soft spot for Frida's work, ever since I came across it in an article in the Sunday Times magazine a good few years ago. I like the allegory and symbology that Kahlo uses, which is why her work makes a good subject for Petit to work with.

If you like the sounds of these, go over and check out Pascale Petit's site, there are sample poems you can read, including the award winning The Strait-Jackets.

Now, I'm off to mind this lamb tagine I'm cooking. I'm so sick of salads!

11 comments:

Michelle said...

Hi Barbara, it sounds like your new cache is giving you food for thought. I found The Zoo Father incredibly painful, but explosively powerful. I ordered The Wounded Deer and The Huntress today.

Jo said...

I love excavating -- though you're right, it can be disturbing. I am going to order those two too -- you can't go wrong with her work.

Liam Guilar said...

Torture implements...In the dungeon at Warwick castle,many many years ago, I saw a display of German torture implements. The castle was a favorite place, the dungeon was familiar, I loved horror films, I'd seen displays of that kind of thing before, but it was the first time I'd realised that people had to design the things, that there were probably badly made thumbscrews that didn't work so well and better ones that did the job and someone making designs to come up with the ultimate model. But the thing that got to me was that someone had not only crafted them, but they had gone to the bother of decorating them as well. They had risked their eyesight to engrave beautiful miniature designs. Took thirty years to get it out of my head and on to the page...

BarbaraS said...

That's right Liam, Ive noticed that too about some implements which can look really beautiful, which is totally strange and weird... a bit like torture itself.

Jo, I feel like a miner sometimes, putting on an imagined helmet and a light. Afterwards, I feel like I've got a dirty face, with eyes staring...

Michelle, you're dead right there. I've loved my first readings of them and now want to read them more closely, when my time permits, which will be very soon, indeed.

Michael Farry said...

Congrats on the review in the current Stinging Fly Barbara - another book I have to buy (and read of course)

Totalfeckineejit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BarbaraS said...

Thank you very much guys, I do aim for clarity. Is it just me, or are we starting to get mail on Saturdays now? I thought it was a bit weird that it was sitting on the mat yesterday.

Liz said...

I think I spotted somewhere that she is going to be at the Cork Literary festival this summer...would be a real treat to see her. Are you going? : )
Ta for all those links, Barbara, ideal for browsing through on a lazy Sunday afternoon...(have just finished a marathon house-cleaning blitz and sorely need the laziness! ; ))

Pascale Petit said...

Hi Barbara and all,

Thank you for buying and reading my books, and for your encouraging comments, I really appreciate it.

I am reading at the West Cork Literary Festival, at Bantry Bookshop at 11am on 9th July, that's next Thursday. I'm looking forward to seeing Bantry which I've not been to before and as I'm reading on my own will read from a number of my books. If anyone here does go please come up and say hello. Pascalex

apprentice said...

Mmm the lamb sounds good. Thanks for the heads up on the other poets too.

I'm the opposite of dark at present. It is my natural inclination/state, so I'm trying to throw it off, at least for the summer :)Mind you a quick look at the news, Iran especially, makes you want to weep. I love the idea of climbing on to the roof at night to shout your protests to the heavens.

I read a book in Harris, where a local old man said we all need, "to be the gardeners of our lives". I thought it was a lovely idea.

BarbaraS said...

That's great news Liz & Pascale - how I would love to meet you, but that will have to wait for another day - I'm supposed to be in Dublin that evening and west Cork is a long six-seven hour trek from Dundalk... I have no doubt that I will get to meet Pascale soon!

Apprentice, I do know what you mean, it's hard to be dark when you're in the bright time of the year!