Translation: Five Poems by Thiago Ponce de Moraes

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Thiago Ponce de Moraes. Photo: Filippo Ronca

Thiago Ponce de Moraes is a Brazilian poet and translator. He has published the poetry collections Imp. (Caetés, 2006) and De gestos lassos ou nenhuns (Lumme Editor, 2010). He is currently finishing his PhD thesis on Paul Celan’s poetry and teaches the Federal Institute of Rio de Janeiro (IFRJ). Ponce has participated in several national and international festivals, including the Festival International de la Poésie de Trois-Rivières in 2015 and the Struga Poetry Evenings in 2016. As a translator, he made Portuguese versions of poets as Basil Bunting, Emily Dickinson, Antonio Gamoneda, J.H. Prynne, Robert Creeley, Robert Lax, William Blake, Yannis Ritsos and several contemporary poets from Latin America and Europe. He is also releasing his third poetry collection, Dobres sobre a luz (Lumme Editor) and a bilingual pamphlet, glory box (Carnaval Press), which includes my own translations of poems from all of three of his collections.

Thiago and I will both be reading at the launch of Dobres sobre a luz and glory box, this Saturday night in São Paulo in Estúdio Lâmina at São João 108.

These translations are all taken from glory box. Read more of this post

Translation: Five Poems by Laura Liuzzi

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Laura Liuzzi

Laura Liuzzi was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1985. Her first book of poetry, Calcanhar (Heel, 7Letras), was published in 2010. In 2014 she published Desalinho (Disalignment) with Cosac Naify. In June of this year, she released the pamphlet Coisas (Things) with the publisher 7Letras at FLIP, Brazil’s most prestigious literary festival in Paraty, Rio de Janeiro state.

The poems I have translated here are from her two most recent books, except for “lessons”, which, given how contemporary it is, is uncollected.

lessons

it won’t scare us if there’s nothing
left over, on our tables, of
our hairlines, of our certainties.

weeks have gone by now in panic
of going back to what was one day
of going back to what might be one day.

we will die together but we have
the strange capacity to survive
and on we go, worse or better.
death is slow, collective and absurd.

a bus goes by with no known destination
obedient to the yellow stripe on the asphalt.
automatic heads, hands and legs
inside the bus that know, despite of

and perhaps out of stubbornness, how to walk.
we walk over uncertainty’s cold
hard ground. some of us even whistle.

another bus goes by and doesn’t stop
– transport is blind and has no
heart.

two bodies can never touch. between them
there will always be a vacuum – the only lesson
learnt sleeping through chemistry classes.

then a touch, an embrace, a kiss, a scratch?

I grab you, embrace you, kiss you, scratch you.
I run you down with my forwardness.
it’s death, but this about how to survive
and surviving.

(Uncollected)

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Translation: Versions of Guilherme Gontijo Flores’s Troiades

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Tombs of Palmyra, Syria, 1935 by Pierre Antoine Berrurier (Source: Wikicommons)

Guilherme Gontijo Flores is a Brazilian poet, translator and editor, born in Brasília in 1984. He has published brasa enganosa (false blaze, 2013) and translated, among others, Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) and Roman poet Sextus Propertius. Guilherme Gontijo Flores lives in the outskirts of Curitiba with his wife and two children, in a farmhouse that he himself designed.

His Troiades project (2014) is “a collage between voices of the defeated” that cuts, freely translates, reworks and rearranges texts from three ancient tragedies: Euripides’ Hecuba [referenced as H below] and Trojan Women [T] and Seneca’s Trojan Women [S]. The texts are then juxtaposed with public domain photos and—in the online version—music. The full project is available in Portuguese and, now, English version online at www.troiades.com.br and a selection on the Berlin-based Cabaret Wittgenstein.

The versions here are alternatives—remixes of remixes to accompany the director’s cut, as it were—that I’ve been working with Guilherme on over the past few months.

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Translation: Three Poems by Heyk Pimenta

Heyk Pimenta. Photo: Marianna Teixeira

Heyk Pimenta. Photo: Marianna Teixeira

Heyk Pimenta is 29 years old today, 31 January. He’s a mineiro from Manhuaçu (Minas Gerais) and lives in Rio de Janeiro with Marianna and their son Zoé. He’s taken part in the exhibitions S.O.S. Poesia at the MAR–Museu de Arte do Rio, Rio de Janeiro and Poesia Agora (Poetry Now) at the Museum of the Portuguese Language, São Paulo. He’s published three books: Sopro sopro (Breath Breath, 2010, Edições Maloqueiristas), Poemas (Poems, 2014, Cozinha Experimental) and A serpentina nunca se desenrola até o fim (The Streamer Never Unwinds All the Way, 2015, 7Letras), where these poems are from. He and an all-star team run the Experimental Poetry Workshop (Oficina Experimental de Poesia) that takes place in Méier, bairro of the north zone of Rio. The poem “density 45” also from his most recent book was translated by Wagner Miranda and you can read it here: https://brincandodedeus.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/44-density-45-by-heyk-pimenta/. The Portuguese originals of these poems are at the bottom of the page and to read more of Heyk in Portuguese, check out his blog: http://heykpimenta.blogspot.com/.

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Translation: “Quiet” by Thiago Camelo

Over 2016 and beyond, I’ll be slightly changing the dynamic of the blog, alternating reviews with translations (the photos that I used to post here are now on my Instagram feed). I’ll start with the poetry of a few young contemporary Brazilian poets, that I’ve been working with over the past couple of months. The first is “Quiet” a pamphlet-length poem by Thiago Camelo, which will be launched later this week on 14 January at Hospedaria Rio in Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro (more details here).

 

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Thiago Camelo in Rio de Janeiro.


Thiago Camelo was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1983. He studied Journalism and Cinema at the PUC-Rio and has published two books of poetry: Verão em Botafogo (2010, 7Letras, Rio de Janeiro) and A ilha é ela mesma (2015, Moça Editora, Curitiba). In addition, he has published the short story A carne, as coisas in the Megamini imprint of 7Letras (2015). A ilha é ela mesma was supported by the Bolsa Criar Lusofonia grant, awarded by the Centro Nacional de Cultura (Lisbon, Portugal).
The poem “Silêncio” will be published in 2016 as a pamphlet by Pipoca Press in the collection Puxad_nho.

As well as being a poet, Thiago Camelo is also a lyricist; in 2015, ‘Espelho d’água’ written in partnership with his brother Marcelo Camelo, was recorded by acclaimed Brazilian singer Gal Costa on her album Estratosférica.

You can find out more about Thiago Camelo on his blog ruadasgaveas.tumblr.com and can contact him at tdscamelo@gmail.com

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Same and Different: Ana Martins Marques’ “The Book of Similarities”

 

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“O livro das semelhanças” by Ana Martins Martins

The Book of Similarities opens, as it surely should, by holding a mirror up to itself. It begins with six numbered couplets that are “Ideas for a Book” (not necessarily this one) before a sequence called “Book”, where each poem describes the cover, the title, the first poem, etcetera, the colophon, the back cover.

The book as a whole (published this year and called O livro das semelhanças in Portuguese) is Ana Martins Marques’ third and sometimes has the feeling of being a series of pamphlets: the first three, “Book”, “Cartographies” and “Visits to the Commonplace” are concept-based; the final one “The Book of Similarities” more open. On a superficial level, this is similar to her previous book On the Art of Traps (Da arte das armadilhas, 2011). And perhaps more than superficially: indeed, the book remains full of traps.

One of the most noticeable things about Marques’ poetry is its apparent simplicity. It’s nothing of the sort. The first section is full of winks and dead-ends. In “First Poem”, the speaker promises “at least here, dear reader / you won’t find / any dirty cups”, which may be true, but seems also to be a sly nod towards the Tender Buttons-esque first section of her previous book. With relief, “Second Poem” begins saying “Supposedly it’s easier from here / the worst is past”, but then turns out, contradictorily, to be a sonnet in hendecasyllables (a traditional Portuguese metre) and the most formal poem in the whole book. There is an alphabetical index of words found throughout the book that appears on page 30 but refers to the book’s 100 plus pages. And there is a poem called “Translation” that ends with an intricate mirroring of sound in its final lines. The translation is my own and includes a rough attempt to replicate the patterning—deep down, I feel the Portuguese is almost untranslatable: Read more of this post

Under Surfaces: Alice Sant’Anna’s Rabo de baleia

"Rabo de baleia" by Alice Sant'Anna

“Rabo de baleia” by Alice Sant’Anna

The cliché belongs to the iceberg of course. But the whale too inhabits this world sometimes in the air, sometimes in the sea—and is more hidden most of the time than those 90% of the iceberg that you can’t see. I’ve never been whale-watching (I have seen river dolphins in the Amazon), but can imagine taking a boat out to sea and watching the still horizon suddenly punctuated by a huge tail fin.

In the same way, Rabo de baleia (literally, the Whale’s Tail, but I’ll stick to the Whale’s Fin to skip a too obvious rhyme that would be out of place in this book), which is Alice Sant’Anna’s second collection, often works out of sight, under the water, at oblique angles. This even comes down to her writing practice that the critic Heloisa Buarque de Hollanda describes in the book’s blurb:

“And I discovered that she writes in syncope and subliminally. She writes on the bus, in quiet interludes, in moments of boredom, in the small gaps over the course of the day and, what apparently attracts her most, in risky situations like at work, in classes, meetings, conversations.”

I’m not sure if all the poems in the collection were written this way, but there are traces of it throughout the poems. In one, the speaker’s companion in Lisbon has “a strange compulsion” to sketch everything: a painting, a doorknob, an egg tart, whereas the speaker herself ends the poem saying (in my rough translation):

meanwhile I anxiously wanted to repeat
the gesture, to document all this, talk about the taste
of cinnamon on the egg tart
of the first blue day in lisbon
but I couldn’t write and hurrying to register things
I became bureaucratic
in my diary: today we took the train, it was hot

Coming at things face-on appears to be a problem and here it turns around the word register, registrar in Portuguese that means to note down or memorize mental perception, but like in English as well, it is also a word widely used by bureaucracy. With too much effort the result becomes banal.

This doesn’t lead to banality with the poems though, although paradoxically some of them are full of finely-tuned observations: the contradictory instructions of an host family in England, a trip to the grandparents in the mountains, a road trip, descriptions of fellow students in Paris or visits to cousins. And in other poems there are colloquialisms that feel verbatim, for example lavar bem lavadas as cerejas (to wash the cherries really washed). They feel like phrases or situations consciously noted down in situ.

In other poems there are unconscious slips, dreams, non sequiturs. There is a dream of a eucalyptus sprouting from a sweet and growing inside the speaker. There is a strange slip in “something always darkened (alguma coisa sempre escurecia)” where you expect—and perhaps if listening would hear—“happened (ocurria)”: phonically they are so close that the normal word hides behind the more unexpected one. There is this fantastic metaphor for snow: “Today we woke up to the city all white, a sensation that we were taking part in someone else’s dream”. And most of all there is the surreal deus ex machina that opens the collection and give it its title:

If only the huge fin of a whale
would cross the living room right now
without any noise at all the animal
would sink between the floorboards

If you’ve picked up the book, you know what the title is, but even so having a whale’s fin suddenly in your sitting room comes as a shock. It is a great poem of boredom, time and things unsaid that continues a few lines later:

what I wanted but can’t tell you
was to grab the whale and dive down with her
I feel a terrifying boredom of these days
of stagnant water attracting mosquitos
despite the stress of these days
of the exhaustion of these days
the body that arrives home exhausted
with the hand outstretched looking
for a glass of water

In both of these extracts, there are words for time at the ends of lines: “right now” in the first and the quick repetition of “these days” in the second that only emphasizes how slow time is passing. It is also a poem of the desire for change or escape and its sheer impossibility: the whale appears in the first line, but there is no mention of the ocean; indeed any mention of water has either been still for days or confined within a glass. And then the poem ends with:

… and the longing
is to embrace the huge
fin of a whale and follow it down.

But it’s impossible to sink down through the floorboards like that.

Alice Sant’Anna, Rabo de baleia, Cosac Naify (São Paulo, 2013) (Buy it from Cosac Naify)

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