Sale!

Selected Poems of Corsino Fortes

by

Translated from by ,

Published: April 2015

$9.99$12.80

ISBN: 9780914671114
    ebook (ePub)

    ebook (pdf)

    Paperback

 


“I would recommend this magnificent, generous, and bilingual presentation of Corsino Fortes’s work to anyone who enjoys grappling with the poignant, the sensuous, and the esoteric. It will be difficult for me to forget the ‘Tree and drum of the ancient viola’ and the sardine as ‘a flickering tongue in the sea’s mouth’; nor ‘Eating the earth eating the earth eating the earth,’ when ‘the earth is flesh’; nor Fortes’s prayer-command to the sunflower to ‘enter [him] / Before the sun / Disorients you Sunflower!'” — Asymptote Journal

“…the poems of this collection are not just water-based, permeated also, as they are, by the fragrances of blood, pollen and tobacco. His sleep is a goat ‘Eating the earth eating the earth eating the earth/Eating the earth eating the earth eating the earth.’ Soil and bread abound as Fortes constructs his world ‘Year by year/skull by skull,’ continually weaving together the elements of his memory, the substantial things of this planet.” — Dylan Brennan, The Bogman’s Cannon


 

Book Description

Corsino Fortes’ collection Pão & Fonema [Bread & Phoneme] appeared in 1974, the year that Portugal’s dictator Antonío Salazar was overthrown, which triggered the decolonization of the Cape Verde Islands in 1975. Though not overtly political, the images in these poems reverberate with approaching renewal – drums surround the island, dead caravels await revival, children scatter seeds near the quiet strings of instruments. Growing out of a Modernist tradition yet composing with a distinctly singular vision, Fortes excavates the gut, heart, and mind, giving us vivid and often hallucinatory glimpses of the land, sea, and people of Cape Verde. His poems become earth- and word-scapes rooted in the land and the body. This first substantial English-language collection, selected and evocatively interpreted by Sean O’Brien and Daniel Hahn, pulls from Fortes’ entire body of work.

I would recommend this magnificent, generous, and bilingual presentation of Corsino Fortes’s work to anyone who enjoys grappling with the poignant, the sensuous, and the esoteric. It will be difficult for me to forget the “Tree and drum of the ancient viola” and the sardine as “a flickering tongue in the sea’s mouth”; nor “Eating the earth eating the earth eating the earth,” when “the earth is flesh”; nor Fortes’s prayer-command to the sunflower to “enter [him] / Before the sun / Disorients you Sunflower!"

Asymptote Journal


Author of works like Pão e Fonema [Bread and Phoneme] (1974) or Árvore e Tambor [Tree and Drum] (1986), his work expresses a new awareness of Cape Verdian reality and a new reading of cultural tradition from the archipelago.

Antonio Miranda


English speakers can finally experience how Fortes addresses the exile’s status common to so many around the world.

Publishers Weekly


...the poems of this collection are not just water-based, permeated also, as they are, by the fragrances of blood, pollen and tobacco. His sleep is a goat ‘Eating the earth eating the earth eating the earth/Eating the earth eating the earth eating the earth’. Soil and bread abound as Fortes constructs his world ‘Year by year/skull by skull’, continually weaving together the elements of his memory, the substantial things of this planet.

Dylan Brennan, The Bogman's Cannon


It is the seductiveness of [the] “dynamism of expression” through which the reader will best remember this significant translation.

Douglas Messerli, Hyperallergic


Concerned with giving voice to Cape Verdean life, Fortes writes in Cape Verdean Creole – and not just standard Portuguese – a powerful statement reinforcing the islands’ distinctive African nature. However, his poems are often written from the perspective of an exile – and themes of exile and redemptive return recur in his work. This collection introduces English readers to Fortes, and the poet’s beautiful and unique use of language.

Portuguese-American Journal


Both translators have been working with Corsino Fortes’ works for a while, and over the years they’ve each shared their thoughts on the poetry and the process of translating it. First, here’s Daniel Hahn on working with Sean O’Brien on “literal” translations of  Fortes for the Poetry Translation Centre. And here’s Sean O’Brien:

Corsino Fortes is a leading Cape Verdean poet of the “liberation” generation, a left-wing modernist born under colonial Portuguese rule. Written in a combination of Portuguese and Creole, his poetry deals with oppression and colonialism while sustaining a visionary sense of a re-made African-Atlantic of the future world where the wrongs of the past will be undone. Rich in marine and archipelagic imagery, both epic and local in their sense of scale, the poems pursue a dense allusive “logic of the imagination” while moving between vivid observation and impassioned declamation.

The challenge for poets making English versions of Fortes’ work is to accommodate the elevated, exclamatory character of the poems without sounding empty and inflated, as surrealism (a clear reference point) often does in English. Against this, Frotes marshals an extraordinarily subtle, sustained and powerful rhythmic life, able to speak to the auditory imagination of the non-Lusophone. The impression is of magnificently controlled lyric improvisation.

The literal versions were supplied by the translator Daniel Hahn, who was extremely helpful in clarifying ambiguities and obscurities where possible. Despite this there are inevitably moments in the present renderings of the poems where the passage of sense from one phrase to the next relies on instinctive association or juxtaposition rather than a settled interpretation. There are symbolic “sets” in Fortes which seem to have no equivalents in English, and in these cases the authenticity of the rhythmic impulse has been privileged.

—Sean O’Brien (originally published in Copper Nickel, Issue 20)

The Poetry Translation Centre has also uploaded a few videos of Corsino Fortes and Sean O’Brien reading at the British Library.

Finally, Corsino Fortes himself appeared on the Poet in the City podcast to talk about his writing.