Black Lawrence Press

What the Water Gave Me: Poems After Frida Kahlo


Black Lawrence Press is very proud to offer the U.S. edition of Pascale Petit’s acclaimed volume of poetry. What the Water Gave Me contains poems in the voice of the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Some are close interpretations of Kahlo’s work, while others are parallels or version homages where Petit draws on her experience as a visual artist to create alternative ‘paintings’ with words. More than just a verse biography, this collection explores how Kahlo transformed trauma into art after the artist’s near-fatal bus accident. Petit, with her vivid style, her feel for nature and her understanding of pain and redemption, fully inhabits Kahlo’s world. Each poem is an evocation of “how art works on the pain spectrum,” laced with splashes of ferocious color.


  • "Pascale’s poems are as fresh as paint, and make you look all over again at Frida and her brilliant and tragic life."
    —Jackie Kay, Observer Books of the Year
  • "Poems about paintings rarely set off fireworks, but this is ekphrasis with a difference: Petit speaks in Kahlo’s voice with eerie believability."
    —Time Out London
  • "This arresting collection…exploring the way trauma hurts an artist into creation, celebrates the rebarbative energy with which Kahlo redeemed pain and transformed it into paint."
    —Ruth Padel, Guardian
  • "No other British poet I am aware of can match the powerful mythic imagination of Pascale Petit."
    —Les Murray, Times Literary Supplement

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Pascale Petit

Pascale Petit lives in London and trained at the Royal College of Art. She spent the first part of her life as an artist, before deciding to concentrate on poetry. Since then she has published five collections, three of which were shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and featured as Books of the Year in the Times Literary Supplement, Observer and Independent. In 2004 the Poetry Book Society selected her as one of the Next Generation Poets. She has worked as Poetry Editor for Poetry London, teaches writing courses for Tate Modern and is a co-founding tutor for The Poetry School. Petit has read her work at many festivals around the world and travelled to Mexico several times to research Kahlo’s life. What the Water Gave Me is available from Black Lawrence Press. It was first published in the UK by Seren in 2010 and was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and the Wales Book of the Year. More ways to connect with Pascale:

Petit © Kaido Vainomaa Author page

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