Black Jaguar at Twilight

He seems to have sucked
the whole Amazon
into his being, the storm-

clouds of rosettes
through a bronze dusk.
I’ve been there, sheltered

under the buttress
of a giant, felt
the air around me –

its muscles tense,
stalking me
as I stumbled

through dense fur,
my father’s tongue
wet on my neck

as I fell into a gulch,
the blackout of his mouth.
And when I woke

I thought I heard
the jungle cough – this jungle,
the jaguar safe

behind bars. I lean over
and touch his cage – his glance
grazes me like an arrow.

by Pascale Petit

This is the last Weekly Poem until after the Christmas and New Year period. We hope you have enjoyed this year’s selection, and we are very grateful to our publishers who have so generously provided poems. You can find a full list of those publishers on the Poetry Centre site. Their books make excellent Christmas presents!

This Friday is the closing date for receipt of abstracts for the Poetry Centre/IES conference about contemporary poetry, due to take place in March 2015. Inspired by the New, Next, and Next Generation 2014 lists, the conference will explore the state of contemporary British and Irish poetry now, and will feature a host of contemporary poets and critics. For more details,visit the cfp on the IES site.

‘Black Jaguar at Twilight’ is copyright © Pascale Petit, 2014. It was published in Fauverie, and is reprinted here by permission of Seren Books.

Notes from Seren:

Pascale Petit has published six collections, four of which were shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and three featured as Books of the Year in the Times Literary SupplementThe Observer, and The Independent. Her latest is T.S. Eliot-shortlisted Fauverie (Seren, 2014). A portfolio of poems from this book won the 2013 Manchester Poetry Prize and the manuscript in progress was awarded an Arts Council England grant. Her fifth book, What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo, was shortlisted for both the T.S. Eliot Prize and Wales Book of the Year. You can read more about Fauverie on the Seren website, and follow Pascale’s work on her website or via Twitter.

Writing about Fauverie on The Tuesday Poem site, Kathleen Jones commented that ‘[t]he Fauverie is the big cat house in the Jardin des Plantes zoo in Paris – a city portrayed in these poems as “savage as the Amazon”. At the centre of the collection is the big Jaguar, Aramis, beautiful, wild and dangerous in every cell of his powerful body. And there is also the poet’s father, now weak and dying, but still able to arouse turbulent emotions and painful memories. There is ambivalence and ambiguity in everything – ‘ferocity and grace’ exist side by side – the wild can be both savage and seductive. Humans are also animals.’

Seren is based in Bridgend, South Wales and was originally conceived in the early 80’s by then Head of English at Brynteg Comp, Cary Archard, on his kitchen table as an offshoot of Poetry Wales magazine. After moving briefly to poet Dannie Abse’s garage in Ogmore by Sea, the advent of Managing Editor Mick Felton has seen the press has go from strength to strength. We’ve published a wide range of titles including fiction (which under Editor Penny Thomas has seen the Booker-nominated novel by Patrick McGuinness, The Last Hundred Days, and an acclaimed novella series based on the medieval Welsh tales from the Mabinogion) and non-fiction (including literary criticism such as John Redmond’s Poetry and Privacy, as well as sumptuous art books like the collaboration between the painter Shani Rhys James and a number of poets and writers: Florilingua). Seren’s poetry list, edited by Amy Wack since the early 90s, has produced T.S. Eliot-nominated titles by Deryn Rees-Jones and Pascale Petit, Costa winner John Haynes, and a large list of Forward prize winners and nominees. Cary Archard remains on our Board of Directors and is a lively and influential presence. We mourn the loss, this year, of the wonderful Dannie Abse, also a guiding spirit. Find out more about the publisher from its website.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.