Antônio Moura begins his reading tour of the UK today, in London at King's University College at 5pm. This is an edited version of his answers to some questions we asked him in anticipation of his visit.
"This is the first time I've been in the UK, and launching a book in another country, translated into its language is very exciting, very rewarding, I think, for any writer or poet. It is a form of recognition that any artist receives with satisfaction.
To participate a tour through several cities is more interesting still. It gives me the opportunity to not only hear their work in another language, but also to feel a close dialogue with and the direct perception that the public speaking the language into which my language was poured, holds for my work.
I've had experience as a translator, Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo and Cesar Vallejo and can say that translation work is mainly poetry, a kind of frustration. For in the case of poetry, there are idioms that are irreplaceable. If in a poem there is the possibility of a synonym in own language it is written, how do you find a similar term in another language? So. The translation works better the closer one can get to the original as possible. I think the best aproximation occurs when the translator achieves a sort of echo in the three main pillars that sustain poetry: sound, image and sense.
Even so, the importance of translation and the translator's role in the scenario is immense in expanding dialogue and exchange between different cultures.
It's hard to talk about poetry. Any poetry. The word poetry is by nature anti-descriptive. There's an essay Claudio Daniel, actually an introductory Spanish for a future edition, which speaks very well about my poetry called "Reimagining the Flood." But, c'mon. In my first two books, Ten and Hong Kong, where there is a concentration on the more extreme experimentation with language, there's a quest to break concepts, procedures and poetic themes. This leads to a certain diction that, while addressing themes often common to all, created what the philosopher Benedito Nunes, in the preface of Hong Kong, called this "the language of Antônio Moura ". Over the next two books, Rio Silence and Shadow of Absence, the focus is shifting to a macro-structure of language and thought, bringing poetry to a meeting and a closer dialogue with thought. [Silence River is a collected of these titles]
What piqued my interest in poetry was the greater nuance of sound that appears in poetry and isn't presented in other types of text. The library in my childhood home was fueled mainly by my older brothers - much older than me. With that came the desire to read the great poets who were there, like Baudelaire, for example. Then came more reading and the world with its throbbing and its bangs and silence.
Yet the poem is formed in silence, a tenuous exchange between unconscious and conscious, almost imperceptive after it jumps into the conscious and it's not long out the fingers, in the form of writing. And when it leaves the fingers it is already almost all formed. What is missing has to be accepted as part of its existence.
I do not know if you can change the way you think about the work, not in general, which involves the complete abandonment of its essence, the anima, the foundation of its art. But I believe that a perception of language can make you or your art leap, and spiral in form, which does imply a transformation.
The role of poetry never was and never will be to have a working function in society. It does not lend itself to that. But I think at certain times, and we need not go back very far in time, just to the first half of the twentieth century, to realize that poetry and art in general, had a penetration, visibility, presence and much greater influence in the world - and I'm not speaking here of an engaged art or pamphleteering - which was much more intense and rebounded much louder in the world than today.
I think that poets and artists today are a community facing an apocalypse in trying to fight barbarism and the banality of technique, which they must resist and carry the flame forward.
Brazil has become the realm of banality, the rise of the disposable and trivia. The media is disgusting. Sloth occupies the place where people could take shelter in cultural quality, not only in the field of poetry. Another major problem is the difficulty that one has to get financial support from the institutions which should have the obligation to literature and other arts. But these institutions usually give their support, for political reasons, to folk and traditional areas of cultural production, which also has its importance but are only one point in the constellation of possible culture."
Antônio Moura, October 2012