Is this how God felt? Battered Moons and Pascale Petit at Poetry Swindon Festival

4 Oct

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“I’ve judged a lot of competitions,” said Battered Moons poetry competition judge, Pascale Petit, “and this was of the highest standard.” Big praise at the Battered Moons finale, Swindon Museum and Art Gallery part of the Poetry Swindon Festival, coming from this year’s chair of the judging panel for the TS Elliot prize.

700 entries this year. The seven winners must be well pleased with themselves. Cristina Newton, co-judge and organiser, said, “You don’t know how happy you [poets] made my summer…and so challenging.”

Here are the poems and comments, summarised Robert Vas Dias, parataxis-style*:

Captured the essence of swan-ness
An iceberg of white noise
lifted it out of its earthy frame and makes it otherworldly
the sound of souls tapping against the wood
his underbelly of text showed up,
How Strange We Are
La curieuse chose que nous,
Do you prefer apples, oranges or pears?
Spare, shrouded in mist
crack the brittle crust
where moths squat like refugees
What monster was this?
Who are the poets beyond these wonders?

Pascale read from her collection, Fauverie, a response to receiving a summons from her father after 35 years. I don’t envy her childhood. Her current work is about wanting to love her mother: ‘even if I couldn’t love her in real life I wanted to love her in the book.’

Fauverie is the big cat house in Jardin des Plantes zoo. Aramis the panther is both a real zoo animal and mythical metaphorical creature. Aramis’ future mate, Simara (spell it backwards) may be real, not sure, is ‘a rainforest in a strait jacket’, a wonderfully accurate observation about the nature of zoos (or lack thereof).

I love Pascale for admitting that ‘listening to poetry is hard work’. One of the great things about Battered Moons is that the audience is given a booklet with all the poems. So numpties like me can follow the words on paper as they are read. Then read it again. Cristina leapt up: ‘We want more hard work! Work us harder! Flip out at poetry! Better than drugs!!!’

Said Pascale, ‘Is this how God felt as he drew his colours across the void?’

For more information on the competition and the winners, visit

*See previous post

Post by Louisa Davison

Louisa Davison is also known as Agent Louisa at Secret Agent Marketing

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