All the more reason to welcome a collection that purports to be up-to-date, whose 20 poets are mostly between 30 and 50 years old. Almino also points out that the poetry we're getting all set to read "is highly representative of what has been produced in Brazil throughout the last 20 years, a period during which the country witnessed, in the mid-eighties, the transition from a military regime to a civil government."
Two points of reference in which most contemporary Brazilian poetry has its roots would be the modernist movement of the 1920s (a style which broke with inflexible, outworn structures) and the concretism of the 1950s (an approach to poetry which took into account the technological and industrial advances of the era). The work gathered here, says Almino, focuses (for want of a better term) on the post-concrete generation.
I'm not exactly sure what it means either, except to indicate, and here's Almino again, "the establishment of new parameters both in theory and in the poetic tradition."
Paulo Leminski and Ana Cristina César were apparently leading
figures, but both of them—despite their relative youth—are already dead.
The title of this book, it turns out, is from a short Leminski poem:
Of the many men and women whose works are gathered here, the images in Waly Salomão's poetry compelled me to read on, and to do so more intently. Nélson Ascher also has engaging, and clever images. Arnaldo Antunes, like Ascher, presents images that both intrigue and delight, for example such adjacent lines as "Monkeys' tails are used as arms. Dogs' tails are used as smiles." In particular I enjoyed Carlos Ávila's "The Sun," about the backwoods sun bleaching the cover of Baudelaire's The Flowers of Evil.
One finds muscle in the short poems of Horácio Costa. "Natural
The other poets not mentioned above include Torquato Neto, Francisco Alvim, Duda Machado, Júlio Castañon Guimarães, Lenora de Barros, Régis Bonvicino, Josely Vianna Baptista, Age de Carvalho, Ângela de Campos, Carlito Azevedo, Frederico Tavares Bastos Barbosa, Ruy Vasconcelos de Carvalho, and Cláudia Roquette-Pinto—names which may never be familiar in this country except to those who avidly follow Brazilian poetry.
Portuguese-language originals and English translations are printed on facing pages, and although the `body' seems to have been captured in most cases, perhaps the spirit hasn't. In few cases do the English versions leap avidly from the page.
One might think that this can't always be the fault of the translators.
To a large extent—the exceptions having been noted above—the poets and
their poetry give little sense of place (their lines could have been written
anywhere), nor do they address substantial issues or intriguing topics.
For a country with a rich, heady aroma of rhythms and sounds, most of the
poems gathered in Nothing the Sun Could Not Explain seem bland and
inconsequential (read the Drummond de Andrade volume and you'll see what
I mean). Perhaps the best place to find Brazilian poetry (and the elusive
Brazilian spirit) remains the Brazilian pop song—from Gilberto Gil to Milton
Nascimento and Caetano Veloso.
we were going to be homer
the work an iliad no less
things got tougher
we could maybe manage a rimbaud
an ungaretti some fernando pessoa
a lorca a ginsberg an éluard
we ended up the minor provincial poet
we always were
hiding behind the many masks
time treated as flowers