Anthology of Encontro Internacional de Poetas in Coimbra

You can find my poems in bi-lingual anthology of Encontro Internacional de Poetas in Coimbra 2007. Here is also preface of the anthology.


Maria Irene Ramalho de Sousa Santos

The Violence of Poetry

Poesia do mundo 6 gathers together, in one more bilingual edition, poems by the poets that participated in the Sixth International Meeting of Poets. The meeting, under the general topic of “Poetry and Violence”, took place in May 2007.

A great German poet once asked: “What are poets for in a destitute time?” Eighteen years after having embarked on this beautiful and dangerous project of bringing poets from all over the world to Coimbra every three years, the organizers of the Sixth Meeting chose to paraphrase Friedrich Hölderlin and wonder: “What are poets for in a time of violence?”

We live in a time of violence. Perhaps more than ever must we now be fully aware of this. No day goes by without the violent intrusion of TV, bringing the cruelest images of oppression, discrimination and repression into the tranquillity of our sitting room. However, the purpose of the Sixth Meeting was not to have poets reading and performing poems about violence. The purpose was, rather, to reflect on what is meant by violence and how poetry relates to it. Resorting to the violence he excelled in taking from language, Blake said: “Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion”. Celebrating the 250 anniversary of the birth of the multifaceted poet and artist, the Sixth Meeting included a tribute to William Blake, the poet whose lovely songs of innocence and experience trumpeted the brutal inequalities and rampant hypocrisy of his society.

The question that many of the poems herein collected inspire is whether poetry can, or should, represent violence. Doesn’t the act of representation in itself amount to violence? As concerns lyric poetry, the “silence of poets” Alberto Pimenta writes about says more than the sayable, and far more forcefully: “you say: / one must distinguish good and evil / you grant therefore that they can be confused”. At a time that increasingly belittles poetry, the arts, and the humanities in general, why listen to the poets and ask, as the Coimbra poet, Vítor Matos e Sá, once did: “What can poetry say?” Poetry says nothing. Poetry is a saying and, in saying itself, it interrupts and shakes reason and the senses. No matter how ineffective ultimately its impact may be, poetry makes the powers tremble. In its nothing saying, in its “silence”, poetry is the violence we most need to interrupt us today – toward our ongoing construction of ourselves as responsible and solidary human beings. Such was the thrust of the remarkable keynote address delivered by C. D. Wright at the beginning of the Sixth Meeting: “Poetry (. . .) aspires to silence. By this I don’t mean it aims for perfection, but it aims for an opening (. . .) a clearing (. . .) a zone wherein the language affords unexpected associations and alternate outcomes”.

At the Sixth Meeting we hosted poets from four continents: Europe, America, Africa and Asia. The poems of Poesia do mundo 6 clearly show why Ruy Belo once said that “poetry is an act of insubordination at every level, from the level of language as a tool of communication, to the level of conformity and connivance with order, any established order”. From the four corners of the world, a destabilizing question flows into Poesia do mundo 6 in powerful images. It asks about the relations of power, violence and coloniality which continue to entangle our lives, whether in the cultural, social and political spheres, or in the personal sphere itself. There are staked-up Mexican vaqueros in a poem by the American Forrest Gander; cormorants, taking over alien space, in a poem by the Irish Macdara Woods; children’s corpses in a poem by the Lebanese from Montreal, Nadine Ltaif. The Angolan Chó do Guri sees herself as a poet of caged men, and Palestinian Faiha Abdulhadi evoques the subtleties of peace politics in her land to wonder: “What is more cruel / the woolf’s teeth or / the fox’s smile?” There are poems, such as those by Brazilian Márcio-André or, better still, the English Maggie O’Sullivan or the American Joan Retallack, which denounce the violence of language itself by totally deconstructing it. At the same time, every poem in this collection, even the most fluidly lyrical poems of the Galician poet Helena Villar Janeiro, or the ontic meditations of the Portuguese Gastão Cruz, rigorously questions the poetical tradition of which it is knowingly a part. In one of his poems, the Russian Maxim Amelin turns the itinerant photographer made obsolete by polaroids into one of the children of Phoebus Apollo. That the personal is the poetical and the political resonates forcefully one more time in the poems authored by the Chinese Xiao Kaiyu.

But not only the poetic order is questioned and reinvented; the dominant values of culture as a whole are put in question as well. To kill the world’s hunger, the Portuguese Regina Guimarães imagines a woman (women are the nurturers), but a woman who turns out to be the firewood needed to cook the meal.

Isn’t poetry, after all, in search of the art of turning “the melody inside out and played / playing over and over”, as suggested in a poem by the American poet John Taggart?


João Rasteiro said…
Rita, tudo bem contigo?
Só este fim de semana consegui ter/obter a "Poesia do mundo 6".
Na antologia os teus poemas são: "Valkoisten portaiden kaupunki" e "Pyhan Antoniuksen kiusaukset".
Ainda estás mo Brasil?
Bjs. de Coimbra,

joão rasteiro
dahl said…
Oi João, tudo bem commigo, espero que seja o caso consigo tambem! Tenho estado no Brasil sem coneccão de internet. Bom de ouvir das escolhas! Vi tanta coisa aqui que vai sair no meu livro seguinte. Você pode achar como foi pelo olhar das fotografias. Estou feliz de voltar para Finlândia em 4 dias. Depois 4 meses em Mexico, desde Setembro....

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