Fiama Hasse Pais Brandão
Three Poems from Três Rostos (1989)
Portuguese literature lacks no female contributions; in fact, to every great female portuguese author, I can name an equally grand male counterpart, and this pairing game can go on for as long as there is a memory capable of absorbing that many names. None stands out, to me, as glowingly as Fiama. Born in 1938 in the same Lisbon as I was born in, having studied Germanic Philology, the same field as I studied, in the same University and Faculty, and being in a state of permanent confusion and clarity, as I am, and sporting the same sort of maritime soft-spokenness as I do, I could hardly imagine anyone as oddly myself as she was. In fact, I believe her to have been more myself than I currently am. Where we differ, however, is in our writing: Fiama stops inside her poetry; breathes; and things continue, often without her. I could hardly fathom such a thing, or such a distance. But since my youth, I’ve always been deeply infatuated with Fiama, and the third poem of these first translations, Demonstration that the Tagus runs near Lisbon, stands as one of my most imprinting and unforgettable readings to date. Perhaps because the Tagus truly runs near me, and because at times, I can be dominated by its presence, and I can be dominated by its absence.