Poems of effervescent grace from one of the best-known and best-loved poets of Portugal
With the elliptical looping of a butterfly alighting on one’s sleeve, the poems of Ana Lui´sa Amaral arrive as small hypnotic miracles. Spare and beautiful in a way reminiscent both of Szymborska and of Emily Dickinson (it comes as no surprise that Amaral is the leading Portuguese translator of Dickinson), these poems—in Margaret Jull Costa’s gorgeous English versions—seamlessly interweave the everyday with the dreamlike and ask “What’s in a name?”
About the Author
Winner of the Premio Reina Sofía for Poetry, Ana Luísa Amaral (1956-2022) was born in Lisbon. She was highly acclaimed not only for her poetry, but also for her plays, children’s books, books of essays, and a novel. She was widely regarded as the finest translator into Portuguese of Emily Dickinson and William Shakespeare. Her books have been translated into many languages and her awards include the Premio Internazionale Fondazione Roma and the PEN Prize for Fiction. In 2019, New Directions published her What’s in a Name to rave reviews and forthcoming is her new work, World.
For her translations of Spanish and Portuguese, Margaret Jull Costa has won the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize four times as well as the Premio Valle-Inclán, the International Dublin Literary Award, and the 2008 PEN Prize for best translation from any language for The Maias, by Eça de Queirós (New Directions, 2007).
With the original Portuguese to the left and the translated English to the right, this collection of poems beautifully weaves together myths, histories, voyages, and language with elegant ease. Amaral wears her attentiveness on her sleeve, deftly considering her place at home, in her city, and in the wilds. — Drawn and Quarterly
Amaral carves a space for fragmentation, uncertainty, and meditative silence within the repertoire of inherited forms. In this accomplished volume and translation, Amaral’s subtle experimentation makes strange an artistic repertoire we thought we knew. — Publishers Weekly
Ana Luisa Amaral's poems read as intimate conversations between the poet and reader, in either the early hours of morning or the late hours of night, where small, everyday moments quickly spiral into great cultural, historical, and even cosmic significance. Brilliant. — The Arkansas International
This bilingual volume, pairing Costa’s translations with Amaral’s Portuguese originals, relies on humble imagery and plain language to plumb complicated truths. — The New York Times Book Review
Inspired: while Costa is particularly adept at bringing into English these moments sought by Amaral of beauty and significance amid the superficially
prosaic, she is equally at home with re-creating the texture and density of
Amaral’s restrained and aphoristic Portuguese, saturating each word and truncated line with meaning. Amaral’s poetry possesses an intimacy that grants
it a sense of timelessness. Yet it speaks to the moment we find ourselves in
today. — Translation and Literature
In a limpid, poised poetry Ana Luísa Amaral evokes interlinked substances (a book, a mood, a mosquito, color itself, love and trust as central, being a mother, domestic moments and their metamorphic transformations) and affirms Being in the world with both a bedazzled clarity and a notable patience with mysteries and divisions. The strong poems of visitations by the muse herself evoke lyrics of Sappho, while Amaral’s modernist side-glance takes in the oddity of the intersection of us and the cosmos of atoms and chance. Here is a lucid, forthright poet charmed by the paradoxes of each poem, by the tiny gestures and traces of life faceted within each poem, and by the vocation of poetry itself. — Rachel Blau DuPlessis
Brilliant: her words celebrate the hidden potentiality inside every woman—and the spontaneity of life itself, even in the contemplation of sudden death. — Asymptote