|Ana Cristina César (from http://tomzine24.wordpress.com)|
As the dates above suggest, hers was a brief life, though she began publishing her poetry in childhood, and by the time she was in her 20s, she had gained public notice as an avant-garde pioneer, ranking among the best of the Poetas marginas (Marginal Poets). She was also queer, and her work espoused a discernible feminism. Her fame inside and outside Brazil has steadily grown since her death, by suicide, at the age of 31. During her lifetime she published several collections, including the acclaimed Luvas de pelica (Kid Gloves, 1980), and A teus pés (At Your Feet, 1982), as well as the prose work Literatura não é documentação (Literature Is Not Documentation), on the politics of documentary filmmaking. I have translated a number of her poems, and featured a rough translation of one (with a companion poem by another Brazilian poet favorite of mine, Leminski), on this blog back in 2010. Although there is a fine British selection of her poems, Intimate Diary, translated by Cecilia McCullough, Patricia E. Page, and David Treece (Boulevard Books, 1997), I don't believe an American one exists. A fellow translator told me the other day, however, that a very famous American poet is now translating Cesar, so her translations will probably appear in book form before any of mine do. At least I have this blog.
Here then are "First Lesson" and "Index of Proper Names," both of which I translated from a bilingual Spanish-Portuguese anthology of her work entitled Álbum de Retazos: Antología Critica Bilinguë, Ana Cristina César, edited by Luciana Di Leone; Florencia Garramuño; and Ana Carolina Puente, Buenos Aires: Corregidor, 2003. The first is overtly about poetry of a particular kind, the second about literature more broadly. Both press at the very limits of what lyric poetry is; are they--especially the second--even poems as we usually know them? Also it's Poem in Your Pocket Day; both of these poems are short enough to carry around in a pocket or your memory, whichever's easier.
FIRST LESSON The genres of poetry are: lyric, satirical, didactic, epic, light. The lyric genre comprises lyricism. Lyricism is the translation of a subjective feeling, sincere and personal. It is the language of the heart, of love. Lyricism is also so named because in other times sentimental verses were declaimed to the sound of the lyre. Lyricism can be: a) Elegiac, when it treats sad matters, almost always death. b) Bucolic, when verse about rustic subjects. c) Erotic, when verse about love. Elegiac lyricism comprises the elegy, the dirge, the threnody, the epitaph, and the epicedium, or funeral oath. Elegy is a poetry which treats sad topics. The dirge is a poetry in homage to a dead person. It was declaimed beside a bonfire in which the corpse was incinerated. Threnody is a poetry which reveals the heart's sorrows. Epitaph is a short verse form engraved on tombstones. Epicedium is a poetry which relates to the life of a dead person. I look for a long while at a poem's body until I lose sight of whatever is not body and feel separated between my teeth a filament of blood on my gums INDEX OF PROPER NAMES Alvim, Francisco Augusto, Eudoro Bandeira, Manuel Bishop, Elizabeth Buarque, Helô Carneiro, Angela Dickinson, Emily Drabik, Grazyna Drummond, Carlos Freitas F°, Armando Holiday, Billie Joyce, James Kleinman, Mary Mansfield, Catherine Meireles, Cecilia Melim, Angela Mendes, Murilo Muricy, Katia Paz, Octavio Pedrosa, Vera Rhys, Jean Stein, Gertrude Whitman, WaltAll poems, Copyright © Ana Cristina César, 2006, 2012; Translations by John Keene, 2010, 2012. All rights reserved.