Rosa Alice Branco
Rosa Alice Branco
Rosa Alice Branco is the prizewinning author of Cattle of the Lord, translated by Alexis Levitin. She is one of today’s premier Portuguese-language poets, with over ten collections of poems translated and published around the world. The English translations of her work, developed in collaboration with renowned translator Alexis Levitin, have been featured in New European Poets and dozens of magazines and journals in the United States, including The New England Review, Prairie Schooner, and Words Without Borders. Branco has received the Espiral Maior Poetry Prize for Best Collection in Brazil, Portugal, Angola, and Galicia. Originally from Aviero, she now lives in Porto, where she is a Professor of the Theory of Perception at the city’s Institute of Art and Design.
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Books by Rosa Alice Branco
Author Q & A
How does living in Porto influence your work? How do you bring Portuguese culture into your poetry?
My life is made of rocks, sand, and sea. My words are made by the waves that bathe the old city. Deliberately or not, my poems allow me to hear the soundscape of Porto, the walk of those who pass the street, their intimate yearnings. All poems are born from mother earth, and they become vagabonds, forgotten of the roots in order to better fly. Even in their flight, the roots are, somewhere, written in invisible ink. [Read more at Portuguese American Journal]
Do you write in English and Portuguese? Or primarily in Portuguese?
For me, writing poetry requires a particular self-intimacy that allows me to travel from the words to the collective breath of the world. In the poem, the meaning has sound. But the visceral sound which will overflow into the poem springs from us and extends itself along the words we hear, say and write, from the emotion of each intonation, from the fabric of the joyful and anguished cry. A poem is our language adrift which encounters the indivisible home of sound and meaning. [Read more at Portuguese American Journal]
Your work is powerful, close up. It takes its strength from your magnifying glass, showing a scene. How do you decide which elements of the narrative to bring to light?
The most essential element I bring to light when I’m working on the poem is the rhythm which must be in rigorous accord with the rhythm of my body. This is one of the reasons why Alexis Levitin is such a good translator. He has a precise notion of the poetic rhythm of each poet and of my rhythm, of course, when he’s translating me. He enters the rhythm of the poems, which leaves me euphoric. Each language gives a rhythm to my poems that creates a diapason with the poem in the original language. But this miracle only occurs with excellent translations. [Read more at Portuguese American Journal]
Who are your influences, both in Portugal and outside of the Portuguese language?
The truth is that I’ve read so much since I first learned how to read – my parents’ library granted me access to both Portuguese and foreign literature – that I don’t think I’ve interiorized one or other specific source. My poetry is influenced by cinematographic narrative – maybe because my father is a film maker, and I’m still so passionate about cinema – and by the problems I stumble upon, should they be related to science, philosophy or everyday life. Still, these ingredients are trans-mutated in the course of poetic writing, erasing the traces that lie in its origins. Irony too is a constant element of my poetry, which is also influenced by the humorous perspective present in my vision of life. I can nevertheless point some of the foreign poets I most appreciate, not considering the consensual classics: Wallace Stevens, Oliverio Girondo, Edmond Jabès, Carlos Drummond de Andrade Charles Tomlinson, John Ashbery. [Read more at Poetry Parnassus]