1, Setembro

She now oft forgets. Memories are volatile, as is the foam of waves and the formication they leave debossed on the shore. September reminds her of wasps, meadows, heat. I’m reminded of jags and seagulls or a deformed field of ashfall. I’ve never heard her express fear of losing the common ropes; my name or that of my mother or uncle, or the age of my sister and her children, or her home, her fields, her flowers. These are the indelible parts while one is idoneous, but that status has now somehow dissolved, like a wave or a phantastical seabird. I sit beside her, involved in some paltry research of German troubadours:

Some lover has spring pinned in his hand and another open where he has loosened a blade and replaced it for a planet. Some hum somewhere slumps into a mire of circles only to rise into a four-toned sky. Some angle of death is braided yet against the carcass of a city. I ask her to point out her unhealables, what parts of her ache with a tingle of sound that cannot be shaken nor reduced. She’s voided, and her eyes tube into the room in search of storms with nameless colours. I near myself to tears as I twist my hands around the neck of avoidance and try to smother out its culminant perfume. I can see but I fail to feel it. I must wait to feel it. I understand: it’s her essence she’s forgetting, not the names. Names are lights, names are suns, things dissolved, things dissolving. And pains are just little watered abstractions. She is one of many to witness an unspeakable withering; flustered, she whispers symbols of home, whistling thorns. The moon hangs high, intense sand-bright convocation of dusts, the waters nearing to delete the prospect of that full-bodied kiss they shall never receive. It’s fine to be smeared, I find, to be torn open, rust scraped off the bone as it is a residue of some nightly relic. The world knows not how to do it differently, we realise. I hold her hand, try to remember. It’s no use, it makes no difference. I know not how to do it differently. It’s fine and it breaks my heart.


Phase two of the torturing duo starts now,
I’ll hopefully survive it,
João-Maria.

31, Agosto

Piet Mondrian, Meandering Landscape with River (1906-1907)

“Books will give rest sometimes against
 the uproar of water falling
 and righting itself to refall filling
 the mind with its reverberation
                    shaking stone.”

William Carlos Williams, Paterson, Book Three (The Library)

The inexhaustible becomes the forgotten. I abhor times of initiation and transition; this science of conjuring aphotic worlds is annealed by a silence which, by nature of the perpetuity of the task, is a material purely chosen for its endlessness. Every sound is an inevitable interruption of form. Wind tortures the reed panicles whose boisterous death is throated fury. The moorhen’s vilipended chucker licks the bulrush like a similar furious gale. The water itself seems bellicose and exuberant, as if all of its threadings required musical punctuation. This is the impression of time hitting the bodies with its venomous silence, a silence I’ve learnt to reproduce because melding with it is the condign manner in which to live; restful, blind, pushing the objects of our impotence onto the margins where such concepts fail to get a grasp. I’m reminded of the iniquity of growing. I’m reminded of a poem. It hasn’t been written, and my mind has the invidious habitude of searching humiliation—my silence already occupies too much of itself. It’s already too corruptive. I’m impressed against the panicles and the moorhens and the bulrushes, my whole body timed and melo-poetic. I’m a unique form infolding the view. I must bear the infelicitous brand of my personalisation: the pains of growing too much, too fast, gobbling up the youthful light like it is the very silence poems seem to be made of.

The seeming, however, is the elusive material, the gilding, the part with any worth, the part with any limitation.


To chronicle the worst months of any year,
João-Maria.

(translation) poem, daniel faria (2)

By popular demand, I shall put here another translation I had given up on and decided to complete upon seeing the warm reaction in my last translation of Daniel Faria. As I’m noticing that more-and-more folks are becoming interested not only in Portuguese poetry and the translated works themselves, but my method of translation and how the translation itself elapses and is thought-out, I decided to include some of my notes later on the post, so that those interested might better understand the choices I make and how I work around some linguistic issues. I remind everyone that I am still an amateur and work my hardest to provide the best that I can, but I’m still inexperienced in the arts of literary translation. This eight-part composition was one of my biggest challenges, but some parts of it are so rich, I couldn’t help but endure the harder ones.




ORIGINAL TEXT BY DANIEL FARIA


I’ll include here the download for the PDF of all the contents of this post: translation, original and notes, for those who might have trouble reading the images or getting them to load properly, or those who’d like to keep the document for themselves.

This is all incredibly arduous to make and hopefully someday I’ll achieve my dream of getting paid for it, haha, though for now I’m more-than-glad to provide it for free and be allowed to do so, both for the experience and to show you all the wonders of Portuguese poetry, which is incredible in nearly all of its presence, though largely underappreciated.
Thank you for letting it live within you,
João-Maria.

(translation) poems, daniel faria

Born 1971, died in 1999.

Daniel Faria is a complicated figure of Contemporary Portuguese Poetry, perhaps the most complicated of all. Daniel died young, at twenty-eight, and left behind a literary legacy of seven published collections of poetry, along other small publications found in literary awards and a plethora of other fragments and pieces that his acquaintances donated to the curation of his work, all of them contained in a single volume, “Poesia de Daniel Faria, edição de Vera Vouga“. Daniel was indubitably of enormous talent, but the eagerness of some to see him as a “regenerator”, a herald of a poetic resurgence along Portuguese literary circles, was concomitant with many pressures to publish work that, albeit good, lacks in a variety of fronts, and perhaps the most nitid one is Daniel’s inability to have a poetic register, or inner-ear, that accompanies the veins and arteries of his themes. A tragedy indeed: to have such a subtle and mature mind command a silent orchestra, or one that can barely play. Out of the entire volume of Poesia, which I do not regret reading for a second, as I do genuinely believe he was of incalculable talent, I still maintain the view that only a lithe portion of his compositions achieved their maximum potential, or were even worthy of their space in the books they occupy. Irregardless of this very-personal-opinion, I translated five poems among those I liked the best, and I do hope to see the bulk of Daniel’s work professionally translated into the English language someday.


Translative note: the Portuguese word “Percurso” is slightly idiomatic. While its literal translation means “pathway” or “route”, Portuguese natives commonly use “caminho” for those meanings, and “percurso” is used more in the sense of “history”, or the path one has thread to get to a certain point, or shall yet thread.

As of now, and just like Herberto Helder, there are no translations of Daniel Faria being performed or sold, though I’m vigilant as to when they might start to appear.

Thank you for reading,
João-Maria.

(translation) poems, herberto helder


Herberto Hélder was born in Funchal, Madeira, in 1930. In 1964, alongside António Aragão, Herberto would create the first anthology of experimental poetry in the Portuguese language, which punctuated an enormous shift in Portuguese poetic literature. He died in 2015.
He wrote the poems above in his book, Servidões, a book also never translated into English. All translations were performed by me. As a last in this series of posts regarding Herberto Hélder, which I hope is a good beginning to a series of translations I’m hopeful to be able to make and post, I’d also like to introduce you to a Portuguese musical artist that I grew up listening to (quite literally). B Fachada came off of a long hiatus to release his latest album, “Rapazes e raposas”, translated to “Boys and foxes”, which are very similar words in Portuguese. The first single and crown jewel of this record is Anti-Fado, meaning Anti-Fate, and though it’s impossible to translate the infinitesimally sharp and intelligent lyricism of Bernardo, I’ll translate the lyrics of the song for you:

B Fachada’s new album can be found on his bandcamp, as Bernardo is also anti-streaming. It is a great purchase if you have a world-music collection and you’d like one of the absolute best Portuguese lyricists of this century.

Anyway, have a nice weekend!,
João-Maria.

(translation) the trains that leave to Antwerp, herberto hélder


Herberto Hélder was born in Funchal, Madeira, in 1930. His poetry began during the tail of Portuguese Surrealism, after Mário Cesariny, and had as recurrent themes alchemy, mysticism and ancient mythology. He died in 2015.
He wrote the prose-poem above in his book, Os passos em volta, a book never translated into English. This translation was performed by me.

(translation) style, herberto hélder


Herberto Hélder was born in Funchal, Madeira, in 1930. He was the most influential Portuguese poet of the second half of the 20th century, and by far the most misanthrope, having lived in relative isolation and refusing every prize he ever received. He died in 2015.
He wrote the prose-poem above in his book, Os passos em volta, a book never translated into English. This translation was performed by me, and is one of three from the same book, which I will release over three days.

Thank you for reading.

poetry with a place

I was inspired to create three compositions on three queer (gay, in this instance) relationships pertinent to Art History. I’m unknowing of why these were the ones that I picked, despite there being quite a few more of weighty impact, some of even more impact that those I chose. I was just reading up on some of them during Pride month and these were the ones that spoke to me sufficiently as to inspire poems. All of them play with some of the elements of the relationships, along with a coalescence of the arts they were occupied with and, of course, my own sentimental hand, which is never too distant of any of my verse. I also include a thin biography of the figures, might they be obscure for some.



Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev (1872-1929), on the left, was a critic and the ballet impresario responsible for the creation of the Ballets Russes, a vagrant dancing company known for the formation of many significant dancers of the time, and one of them was Vaslav Nijinsky (1890-1950), on the right, often considered one of the greatest if not the greatest dancer of his age. After Nijinsky married Romola, a known Hungarian aristocrat, Diaghilev threw him off the company, and though he later tried to form his own company, he failed to do so. Eventually, he fell into madness, spending his last thirty years in various asylums in Switzerland. Diaghilev went on to have a series of male lovers throughout his life. The last was Igor Markevitch, who later married one of Nijinsky’s daughters in what seemed to be the last nail of this turbulent history.


1 – Walt Whitman, Passage to India, 8th stanza
2 – “Audi, vide, tace” translates from Latin to “Listen, look, be silent.”

Edward Morgan Forster (1879-1970), on the right, was an English novelist of exceptional talent and one of a very fruitful harvest named the Bloomsbury Group, of which Woolf and Roger Fry were part of. He wrote a few novels, among them The Longest Journey, in 1907, and A Room with a View, in 1908, but the greatest and most lauded was indubitably A Passage to India, in 1924, after a period of fourteen years since his last large work. A Passage to India was special, however, since it was inspired by his greatest love, Ross Masood (1889-1937), on the left in the picture, the grandson of an Islamic reformist and son of a judge and jurist, both from British India. Forster tutored Masood in Latin, and since Masood was ten years his junior, it is believe that the relationship was never materialised beyond its platonic nature. Still and despite that, it is clear through correspondence and the aforementioned novel that it meant much to them both.


3 – the first and last verse of the first stanza of Thou Art a Vineyard, or Shen Khar Venakhi, a Georgian hymn attributed to King Demetrius I.

Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) was a French composer with an extensive catalogue of compositions and a profound influence to many others as part of the Six along with other composers of his time, like Louis Durey and Darius Milhaud, and Richard Chanlaire (1896–1973), of whom I found no picture but only a painting, was that, a painter, and assumed to be the first actual lover of Poulenc, who had others throughout his life. Despite there being virtually no information on their relationship, I found it of tremendous interest to explore, in verse, the romance of a painter and a musician, both attuned to wordless worlds which can hardly — if in any way — be replicated in text. The usage of the Georgian hymn comes about a citation I found of Benjamin Ivry, a biographer of Poulenc, in which he found that in a copy of his Concert champêtre that he gifted to Chanlaire, Poulenc wrote “You have changed my life, you are the sunshine of my thirty years, a reason for living and working.”.


I hope you enjoyed this small exploration; surely the compositions aren’t as complex or dense, but they have their own place, I find. They do, this time around. And it goes to show that poetry may come from any fount, if our poetic ear is so inclined. Verse, however, might be a bit harder to rope out, but it is certainly always there, ready to be rescued.

Thanks for reading,
João-Maria.

surmania – layers and (layering)

phil_gomm_flax_02_blog
Phil Gomm, Flax (2020)

surmania

surmania layers

surmania layering


I know, I’m aware. When I was little, I feared two things: to be touched, and alien spaceships, though I suppose that dissipated when I first visited one (fun!). The haptophobia, though, never quite took flight, and it only became more extensive, deeper. I have my ways of becoming intangible, of becoming repulsive, of shedding magnetism. When I started posting on WordPress two years ago, my desire was to amplify myself, reach that final and most obscure cycle of creation which is and can only be external and communal. Some poems I’ve placed on here had such a sharp emotional density to me that such an act of exhibition was akin to pleading for the return of a lover. I became increasingly frustrated with my ineptitude at translating what isn’t, nor was ever intended to be, a cerebral or philosophical poetic spine; that’s not what I am. The heart of my poems is that of mine; it’s trauma, madness, rejection, humiliation, and they enjoy the measure of isolation and disfigurement that all of these sentiments carry. I’m rarely ever okay, but I’ve learnt an integral aspect of my being: you either make a monument of your pain, or you monument your pain, and the former is, to me, a necessary but very grievous process. I know my poems are never easy, they are never clear, never idoneous or clean or expectable. I know they are long and, as a cloud that makes me blush once said, (João-Maria waves at the sky), that might detract some folks from reading me. They might leave, and it’s okay if they do, it’s important. But I can’t paint myself of easy digestion while I can’t easily digest myself. I aspire for that parsimony and subtlety; I want that, but I’m not that, or I’m not always that. The composition above pinnacles that statement. But everyone who does read me, and comments, and e-mails me with incorruptible sweetness, you make this process of asking to be loved again incredibly lighter. I know I’ve been timid for a long time and only now am I starting to engage more, and though we all live creativity differently, I hope I’ve been lightening the experience for those that feel it heaviest, or at least doing something positive for you.

Phil Gomm, Flax (2020)