Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Brasil e Poesia

I was in Brazil last week for work and I got to have a fabulous lunch with Poet Regis Bonvicino who has been a guide for me on my entrance into the Brazilian poetry world.

I love Brazil and its poetry. Unlike Hispanic poetry which is so married to lyric and tradition Brazilian poetry is full of vigor and newness. I love the fact that in Brazil a big literary event is when poetry by Pound or Creeley or HD is translated into Portuguese.

Sao Paulo however has been a little bit of a threatening place. I have been going to Sao Paulo for over 13 years. The first time I went to Sao Paulo in 1995 I was a poor young volunteer with no money. I arrived from Bolivia by bus, dirty, thin ( really I was thin then) and amazed. After living for two years in provincial Bolivia to arrive in Sao Paulo was a revelation to me.

It has been said that New Yorkers are jarred by the city of Sao Paulo. It has changed over time. There is more violence and kidnapping which adds a flavor that hurts what Brazil is about but in some ways this adds to the dynamism. If there are cities of the future then Sao Paulo is one of them.

I love Brazilian poets, Regis is a favorite, Sergio Medeiros is a master, Josely Vianna Baptista is the best poet I know of apart from Jennifer Moxley....

But all too often Brazilian poetry gets wrapped up in this country into the moth eaten world of Michael Palmer and Marjorie Perloff when in reality its dynamism is lost on most American poets who are so used to reading their own weak water poetry that they cannot see the dynamism of a culture where poetry can still matter and is not just the purview of the denizens of Berkeley and the Upper West Side.

I recently translated work for Aufgabe magazine and I remain amazed at the sheer range of the poetry in Brazil, poetry about everything from color of water in the Iguacu Falls to personal violence all with an innovation that does not exist in many places. For my money you can keep all the American "experimentals" and give more poetry from the land of the Beautiful Game where poetry still possesses pure dynamic power.


Rui said...

Thank you very much for your post about Brasil!!!
I'm portuguese, living in Lisboa (but I was born in Moçambique), but I have good friends in Brasil... and I'm very happy to see Brasilian poetry recognized out of their country!!!


Glenn Ingersoll said...

Glad you've done some work to get that Brazilian poetry to the non-Portuguese language world. Sadly, my own facility with Portuguese is insufficient to enjoying literature -- I can stumble through newspaper prose with a dictionary. However, I am delighted when I have opportunity to read poetry in translation.