Readings from two new collections by two of Britain’s most gifted writers. Bondo is Menna Elfyn’s latest collection in Welsh and English. Her title means ‘eaves’ in Welsh, referring to poems about getting close to language as sanctuary. Other poems were written episodically over a number of years. This meditative work began simply as a personal engagement with the grief of Aberfan, expressing solidarity with a nation's wound. Bondo is also the voice that echoes the role of the Welsh bard as remembrancer.
Petit’s Mama Amazonica is set in a psychiatric ward and in the Amazon rainforest, an asylum for animals on the brink of extinction. It reveals the story of the poet’s mentally ill mother and the consequences of abuse. The mother transforms into a giant waterlily (Victoria amazonica), and a bestiary of untameable creatures – a jaguar girl, a wolverine, a hummingbird – as she marries her rapist and gives birth to his children. Petit does not flinch from the violence but offers hope by celebrating the beauty of the wild, whether in the mind or the natural world.