Pascal Petit and the Tate Poetry Courses

Pascal Petit is an established poet who is known for her ekphrastic poetry. Her 2010 collection of poems ‘What the Water Gave Me’ Poems after Frida Kahlo gives a voice to the artist Kahlo and include interpretations of her work.

Pascal Petit also runs regular poetry courses at the Tate modern where particpants respond to exhibitions and collections there. Her six week course Metamorphosis, Oct-Nov 2012 (note: concurrent with the National Gallery ekphrastic ‘experience called ‘Metamorphosis: Titian 2012’) is outlined below:

Metamorphosis: Poetry from Art

Poetry Course at the Tate Modern
Mondays, 15 October to 19 November, 18.45–20.15 2012

What happens to poems when their starting point is a work of art? What happens to an artwork when it is transformed into a poem?

In this six-week course we explore ways to metamorphose art into poetry, embarking on adventures with the imagination. Creative writing exercises are offered to help you make images with words and shape them into poems.

We will base ourselves for one session in the William Klein + Daido Moriyama exhibition and every week work directly in the galleries with the permanent collection displays. Contemporary poems by leading poets will be used as models to inspire your writing.

Here is a chance to enjoy Tate Modern’s magical setting in the evening when the galleries are quiet and you can engage closely with international masterpieces to develop your own poetry in unexpected directions.

Pascale Petit’s fifth poetry collection is What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo. She has had three books shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize. A Next Generation poet, she has been Poetry Editor of Poetry London and was a founding tutor of The Poetry School.
This course is suitable for writers with some experience of poetry workshops.




She says of herself on her website:

I’m a French/Welsh poet living in London, UK. My latest collection Fauverie (Seren, 2014) was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize. A portfolio of poems from the book won the 2013 Manchester Poetry Prize and the manuscript won an Arts Council England award. My fifth collection What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo, published in 2010 by Seren, 2011 by Black Lawrence Press, US, was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and Wales Book of the Year. I tutor poetry courses in the galleries at Tate Modern and for The Poetry School. Two previous books, The Zoo Father and The Huntress, were also shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and my books have been books of the year in the TLS, Independent and Observer. Author portrait credit Kaido Vainomaa.


What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo

Shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize
 / Shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year 
/ Book of the Year in the Observer

Buy What the Water Gave Me from Seren
Published by Seren, 2010,
US edition published by Black Lawrence Press, 2011

What the Water Gave Me contains poems in the voice of the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Some are close interpretations of Kahlo’s work, while others are parallels or version homages where Petit draws on her experience as a visual artist to create alternative ‘paintings’ with words. More than just a verse biography, this collection explores how Kahlo transformed trauma into art after the artist’s near-fatal bus accident. Petit, with her vivid style, her feel for nature and her understanding of pain and redemption, fully inhabits Kahlo’s world. Each poem is an evocation of “how art works on the pain spectrum”, laced with splashes of ferocious colour.


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