Birds for a Demolition

Birds for a Demolition

by Manoel de Barros
     
 

Birds for a Demolition brings the vivid, surreal poetry of one of Brazil's most celebrated living poets into English for the first time.

Overview

Birds for a Demolition brings the vivid, surreal poetry of one of Brazil's most celebrated living poets into English for the first time.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
From the Publisher
"Manoel de Barros, born in 1916 in the wetlands region of Brazil, has received his country's highest literary honors, but his poetry has not been available in English. It's our good fortune that the skillful translator and poet Idra Novey has rectified the situation with the publication of Birds for a Demolition (Carnegie Mellon $16.95), a broad selection from nearly 50 years of de Barros's enchanting, at times surreal poetry."—Open Poetry Books

"These poems are tightly packed, sharp little lyrics cutting through the world. And it is a testament to Novey's poetic sensibilities as a translator that they are so dense, and yet so light. . . . Novey brilliantly performs de Barros' simultaneous un- and re-construction of himself and the natural world through language. Packed with luminous, inventive and often witty verse, [Birds for a Demolition] preserves the nothing at the core of poetry, nature and being."—Erica Mena, Three Percent

"Traveling through the landscape built by Barros is not an experience soon forgotten. His poems are all at once small bestiaries and collections of aphorisms, full of indubitable truths and made up of intensely, sometimes fragmented, lyrical moments in plain language; these poems are constantly raising the stakes of surreal, sensory delight."—E.C. Belli, Words without Borders

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780887485237
Publisher:
Carnegie-Mellon University Press
Publication date:
05/17/2010
Series:
Carnegie Mellon Poetry in Translation
Pages:
96
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.30(d)

What People are saying about this

Ellen Dore Watson
"Birds for a Demolition serves up a generous helping of poetry by the irresistible Manoel de Barros, an aphoristic prankster dedicated to 'striving for vegetable wisdom.' His is a world in which 'a frog swigs the sunrise' and death 'weeds its way' into a prison cell. 'A poem is an un-utensil,' he declares—but there is much more than simple high jinks beneath his idiosyncratic ways of seeing and saying. And Idra Novey brilliantly recreates both the spirit and substance of these poems, in language as bold and buoyant as the original."
Ellen Doré Watson
"Birds for a Demolition serves up a generous helping of poetry by the irresistible Manoel de Barros, an aphoristic prankster dedicated to 'striving for vegetable wisdom.' His is a world in which 'a frog swigs the sunrise' and death 'weeds its way' into a prison cell. 'A poem is an un-utensil,' he declares—but there is much more than simple high jinks beneath his idiosyncratic ways of seeing and saying. And Idra Novey brilliantly recreates both the spirit and substance of these poems, in language as bold and buoyant as the original."
Edward Hirsch
"The Brazilian poet Manoel de Barros has reinvented the Orphic task of the poet in these short, surreal, incandescent lyrics that stick close to the natural world, that make a pact with stones and birds, that celebrate 'the Grandeurs of the Lowly.' Idra Novey has done us a genuine service by bringing into English these late modern poems that 'memorialize the poor things of the ground" and sing the world.'

Meet 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.

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