Algaravias: Echo Chamber

Waly Salomão, trans. from the Portuguese by Maryam Monalisa Gharavi. Ugly Duckling (SPD, dist.), $16 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-937027-64-3
Winner of the 1995 Prêmio Jabuti, Brazil’s highest literary prize, this celebrated collection from Syrian-Brazilian poet and songwriter Salomão (1943–2003) reveals an experimental, energetic style that, while critically under-appreciated in the United States, diverged sharply from the concrete poetry that preceded it and reshaped the course of Brazilian literature. Salomão’s poems, by turns incantatory and meditative, unabashedly confront the isolative “echo chamber” of dictatorship; the hazards of post-dictatorship commercialization and globalization; and historical legacies both poetic and political. “Writing is to avenge loss,” he writes. Throughout, Salomão maintains a buoyancy and inquisitiveness that makes the poems feel timeless and ever-relevant; his exploration of perception keeps the work from becoming bombastic or dogmatic. “Who blows the chromatic trumpet/ of the records of water/ into the abyss?” he asks—while recognizing “the audacity of being a poet.” The text also serves as a map of alliances—he addresses figures as varied as John Ashbery, Paul Valéry, and his family and friends. Presented in a dual-language format, Salomão’s crucial work should find an appreciative new audience: “The real is hollow, lame, crippled./ The real stumbles./ The imagination flutters.” (June)
Reviewed on: 01/02/2017
Release date: 06/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
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