Birds for a Demolition


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

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

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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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887485237
  • Publisher: Carnegie-Mellon University Press
  • Publication date: 5/17/2010
  • Series: Carnegie Mellon Poetry in Translation
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.30 (d)

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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Table of Contents

Introduction: Translating the Riverbed

POEMS 1960-1982
Job, Anew
The Use of Materials and Birds for a Demolition
The Tin Man from Thrush in Darkness

POEMS 1985-1993
Small World
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Six or Thirteen Things I Learned about Myself
An Education on Invention

The Book about Nothing
Desiring to Be

POEMS 1998-2009
In War
Of Birds
The Rock
Portrait of the Artist as a Thing
Invented Memoir from Song of Seeing from Biography of Dew
The Illness
The Art of Infantilizing Ants
The Two
Invented Memoir, II

About the Author
About the Translator

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