Like A River 12

Salgado Maranhão
Translated from the Portuguese by Alexis Levitin

They got us this farexploding from their avarice—with praise and laurel-leafeddecapitations.They got us this far(with winches) for us to sproutfrom dry stalks:a cutting wind and muscularreason inauguratingpain;the long archive of dawnsawaiting                     constellationsof marbled death.And an arm's tillagethat strengthens the soiland its seeds (the arm thatboth whips and cradles).And so I sleep above the riftopen to the radiationof centuries—and I go onwith those who have abandonedany pilgrimage of return.What I haven't yet becomethe rising cliff suggests to me.Who erected that trapezewith its rotten ropes?Who seeded that orchardof clouds?And this junglein the streets of language?The poem begs for silenceso it may dream. 

Como Un Rio 12

 Trouxeram-nos até aquià pilha da usura -com louvores e degolaslaureadas;trouxeram-nos até aqui(a guindaste) para brotarnos caules secos:o vento cáustico e a razãomuscular inaugurandoa dor;o longo acervo de aurorasa guardar                       constelaçõesde mármore.E o lavrar do braçoque arrima o soloe as sementes (o braço, que éaçoite e capuz).Então durmo sobre a fendaaberta à radiaçãodos séculos -, e sigocom os que perderama caravana de volta.O que ainda não soume acena o penhasco.Quem ergueu esse trapéziocom as cordas rotas?Quem semeou esse pomarde nuvens?E esta selvanas ruas da língua?O poema pede silênciopara sonhar.

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photo of Salgado Maranhao

Salgado Maranhão, winner of all of Brazil’s major poetry awards, has toured the United States five times, presenting his work at over one hundred universities. In addition to fourteen books of poetry, he has written song lyrics and made recordings with some of Brazil’s leading jazz and pop musicians. Five collections of his work have appeared in English: Blood of the Sun (Milkweed Editions, 2012), Tiger Fur (White Pine Press, 2015), Palávora (Diálogos Books, 2019), Mapping the Tribe (Spuyten Duyvil, 2021) and Consecration of the Wolves (Bitter Oleander Press, 2021).

photo of Alexis Levitin

Alexis Levitin has published forty-seven books in translation, mostly poetry from Portugal, Brazil, and Ecuador. In addition to five books by Salgado Maranhão, his work includes Clarice Lispector’s Soulstorm and Eugénio de Andrade’s Forbidden Words, both from New Directions. He has served as a Fulbright Lecturer at the Universities of Oporto and Coimbra, Portugal, The Catholic University in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and the Federal University of Santa Catarina, in Brazil and has held translation residencies at the Banff Center, Canada, The European Translators Collegium in Straelen, Germany (twice), and the Rockefeller Foundation Study Center in Bellagio, Italy.

"After experiencing this territory of the sacred wolf in the poetry of Maranhão, we will inevitably understand in a new way the notion of Aristotle that the human being is a 'political animal.' Agreeing with the survival of the animal/barbaric side of humanity, at the same time that he insists on the complexity, multiplicity, and fierce beauty of this animal side, the question which Maranhão poses in his poetry is the following: in our social and political life today, which wolf will we feed? Whence will we give our power, our political and creative energy? The poet—migrant creator, friend of barbarians, animals, and foreigners—continues to dream the answers in this, his journey between pregnant silence and a transformed language."
—Jack A. Draper III, from the Afterword

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