Synopses & Reviews
Birds for a Demolition brings the vivid, surreal poetry of one of Brazil's most celebrated living poets into English for the first time.
"The marshy, rural wetlands of western Brazil have been de Barros's stomping grounds throughout his more than nine decade life, and they constitute the presiding spirit of this collection of poems from 1960 to 2009, selected and translated by Novey. The poems are powered by strange transformations that seem natural, inevitable. De Barros's is a world in which speakers 'exhibit the traits of the fruit fly,' or 'have a doctorate in ants,' or in which 'an old man plays his flute/ to invert the sunsets' and 'cigarettes, out of love, get lost in the trees.' The act of writing is seamlessly integrated into the physicality, eroticism, and magic of his surreal and decadent ecosystem. Comparing the poet 'in a coitus with letters' to the slug who 'screws the stone,' he continues: 'A poet is a creature who licks words and gets delirious.' Still, de Barros isn't a romanticizer: pain, poverty, and 'grounds besieged by abandon' make their necessary appearance. In the end, his ambition seems to be to give voice to the intimacies of his particular, meticulously studied world: 'To be like things that have no mouth!/ Communication by infusion/ by rite/ by incrustation.... To be creatures, children,/ dry leaves.' (Dec.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
About the Author
Manoel De Barros, author of more than twenty collections of poetry, was born in the wetlands region of Brazil known as the Pantanal in 1916. He has received Brazil's highest awards for poetry multiple times: the Jabuti Prize in both 1990 and 2002, the Nestle Poetry Prize in 1997 and 2006, and the Ministry of Culture's Cecilia Meireles Prize in 1998. His unusual life and work were the subject of Joel Pizzini's 1989 film O Caramujo Flor. Idra Novey's first collection of poems, The Next Country, was published in 2008. A book of her translations of poet Paulo Henriques Britto, The Clean Shirt of It, received a PEN Translation Fund Award and was published in 2007. She teaches in the School of the Arts at Columbia University, where she is the director of Columbia's Center for Literary Translation.