p. leminski

in english


Translations by

from Brasil/Brazil
a revista de estudos literários US/BR (Brown U. e UFRS)

Paulo Leminski
(1944-1989): prolific poet, experimental proseer, essayist, translator, occasional songwriter, cultural agitator, polyglot martial artist. A leading voice of his generation, Leminski follows different paths attempted in Brazil from the early 1960s through the late 1980s. He contributed to the journal of concretism, Invenção, at eighteen and maintained a characteristically acute sense of visuality and typographic space in his poetic output. Much of Leminski's poetry of the late 1970s/early 1980s can be read under the contested rubric of poesia marginal, though his detached irony and language-based mini-lyrics set him apart. The best poems from his numerous small-press books are collected in Caprichos & Relaxos (1983) and Distraídos venceremos (1987). In the latter, renewed desires for rigor and dialogue with literary traditions are evident. The author's experiment in New World baroque narrative, Catatau (1975), was a kind of cult book; it was complemented by the ludically Proppian Agora é que são elas (1984). A multi-media cultural event and academic program (with such participants as Haroldo de Campos, José Miguel Wisnik and Leyla Perrone-Moisés) was sponsored by the poet's home municipality of Curitiba in the quarter following his untimely death. His eventually adverse existential state and cosmopolitan poetic awareness best crystallize in a paronomasiastic one-liner he left as verse: PERHAPPINESS. (1999 note: Curitiba has continued to hold an annual cultural event revolving around Leminski, using the very same name of maybe-felicity)


Charles A. Perrone


                                Two versions:
You can just keep your reality
it's such a downer
down the tubes everything goes

I want to live in actuality
those American movie shows
You can keep that reality deal
and all those bad vibes
where everything's down the drain

I myself want to live for real
my American film domain

SACRO LAVORO the hands that write this line were one day set to be a priest's transforming bread and wine of feast into flesh and blood of christ the lord today they transform words to strike accords between the obvious and the unexplored
life is the cows you put in the river to attract the piranhas while the herd passes
we were born in diverse poems it was fate's wish that we find each other in the same strophe sister and brother in the same verse the same phrases rhyme at first sight we saw each other trading what was synonymous our gazes no longer anonymous having read this far along the same track and lines of mine of yours of ours blended
one day we were going to be homer a work no less than an iliad then later the going getting rougher maybe you could be a rimbaud an ungaretti some fernando pessoa a lorca an éluard a ginsberg finally we ended up the little provincial poet we'd always been behind so many masks that time treated like flowers
i'm not the silence that means to say words or clap its hands for performances of chance I'm a river of words I request a moment of silences pauses waltzes calms penchants and a touch of oblivion just one and I can leave space and beset with stars this theater that's called time
VERDURE (words and music; recorded by Caetano Veloso, 1979) all a sudden i recall the verdure green the color the greenest that may exist the happiest color saddest on the list the green that you're wearing the green you wore you insist the day i couldn't miss you the day you couldn't be missed all a sudden i sold my sons and daughters to a family of americans they've got the autos they've got the money they've got a house, see and money's not funny that's the only way they can go back and catch Rio rays, get sandy and sunny
another translation by CHARLES A. PERRONE from A linha que nunca termina Ed. Lamparina, Brazil, 2004, p. 342
WHAT'S MEANT TO BE SAID to Haroldo de Campos, translator maximus What's meant to be said will say Don't go doing What I, one day, always did. Don't just keep meaning and wanting, something I wanted in no way. What's meant to be said will say. Only by saying in another what, one day, was said will you, one day, happily stay.
Thanks, Charles!


see also:

· LIES ABOUT THE TRUTH 14 brazilian poets
· poems translated by CHRIS DANIELS
· UNENCONTRARIES 6 brazilian poets
· NOTHING THE SUN COULD NOT EXPLAIN 20 Contemporary Brazilian Poets
· a poem by ROSA CLEMENT


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