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Pascale Petit I was born in the Larzac

Note

‘I was born in the Larzac’ is written in the spirit of the great Hungarian poet Ferenc Juháász’s long prose poem ‘At Childhood’s Table’ (translated by Kenneth McRobbie). His is an extraordinary work. There is nothing like it in English poetry, it breaks so many bounds in its visionary extravagance and catalogues of compound nouns. Reading it is like entering a landscape by the roots. It made me think of the prehistoric Larzac plateau in the Languedoc where I spent my childhood summers, and which I had already written about in The Huntress, experimenting with the very long line. I tried Juháász’s uninhibited clustering of expanding images in a prose poem and had fun with them but then hesitated. At this point I took out one extract and sent it to David and Helen as the short poem ‘Dragon-Daughter’, and they published it in their Transgressions issue. This encouraged me so I revised ‘I was born in the Larzac’ and decided to submit it entire. I’m pleased it’s in Getting it Across because it revisits a silent withdrawn childhood, which with Juháász’s help has sprung into sound.

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