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Devolutionary Readings

English-Language Poetry and Contemporary Wales


Matthew Jarvis

The September 1997 vote approving devolution, albeit by a tiny margin, was a watershed moment in recent Welsh history. This volume of essays considers the English-language poetic life of Wales since that point. Addressing a range of poets who are associated with Wales by either birth or residence and have been significantly active in the post-1997 period, it seeks to understand the various ways in which Wales’s Anglophone poetic life has been intertwined both with devolutionary matters specifically and the life of contemporary Wales more generally, as well as providing detailed scrutiny of work by key figures. The purpose of the book is thus to offer insights into how English-language poetry and contemporary Wales intersect, exploring the contours of a diverse and vibrant poetic life that is being produced at a time of important cultural and political developments within Wales as a whole.

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10. Displacing and Redefining Trauma: Pascale Petit’s Deer, Birds and Butterflies (Zoë Brigley Thompson)


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10   Displacing and Redefining Trauma: Pascale Petit’s Deer, Birds and Butterflies

ABSTRACT This chapter challenges ideas of the ‘good’ or reasonable victim, drawing on re-theorizing of trauma by Ann Cvetkovich. To illuminate these ideas, the analysis uses poems by Pascale Petit, whose body of work deals with rape and abuse within the family. Petit draws on her experience of family abuse, but influenced by her experiences growing up in Wales, she looks to the world of animals, birds and insects to work through complex feelings after rape. The animals can be powerless or powerful, or even both simultaneously, but through Petit’s oeuvre, her creatures slowly, inexorably construct a portrait of the complexity of trauma. The resulting narrative refuses the rape myth of the ‘good’ victim, which invalidates the complex feelings resulting from trauma: there can be no simple ending of wholeness, healing, or redemption.

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