There is no better start for the obituary of the Portuguese poet Ana Luísa Amaral, who died this Friday in Leça da Palmeira at the age of 66, than one of her verses. wrote it in the book what’s in a name in tribute to a neighbor who had lost her son in an accident: “And there are days when I think / how she does to see the sun.” Solidarity has been one of the forces that have permeated both his life and his work, which has been translated into more than 15 countries. In 2021, she became the fourth Portuguese-language author (and seventh woman) to win the Queen Sofia Prize for Ibero-American Poetry since its creation. “I write what I feel, I write because I need to write, like I need to eat or read, an almost physical need”, he said in September 2021 in Babelia, in one of the last long interviews he gave before he was diagnosed with cancer.
Amaral could see the sun in an onion and the storm in a woman with a shopping cart. His poetry, collected in more than 16 books, is crossed by forces that clashed between the subtlety of everyday life and the transcendence of the meaning of life. He wrote as many verses on the crushing of a mosquito as on the seas of Homer, on migrants as on a cooking recipe, on the mourning of the father as on biblical scenes. A poetry of excess that was born from his own way of traveling the world. “If there is no passion, life is not worth living,” he stressed in this interview, held at his home in Leça da Palmeira.
This existential vehemence was in everything. When he wanted something, he devoured it. read to Emily Dickinson and became his translator and one of his great specialists of the American poet. He just honored her the day he named his dog after her. discovered at Germaine Greer and became a feminist and theoretician of feminism (she was in fact one of the pioneers of gender studies in the country since the University of Porto). The first thing she said in the classrooms was that “feminism can be summed up in one expression: human rights”.
Ana Luísa Amaral was born in Lisbon in 1956. She was the only child of a businessman who dreamed of playing the piano and a housewife who dreamed of being a businesswoman. The family moved to Porto when Amaral was nine years old. The move was not easy. To resist the loneliness and bullying he suffered, he took refuge in religion and poetry. For a time, she dreamed of becoming a nun and lived immersed in a world of devotion that included visits to the sanctuary of Fatima, daily masses and poems dedicated to God. Since he wrote his first poem at the age of five, Fall, never stopped doing it. In high school, he turned away from “institutionalized” religion, though he retained a sense of spirituality that runs through his books.
In 1990, when she was already working as a teacher, she published her first book, my lady of whatwhere he argued that his poetry was born out of urgency: “If the hurried verses / are always urgent for me” [Si los versos acelerados, me nacen siempre urgentes]. This book already showed that a voice with a lot to say had arrived in Portuguese literature. During these three decades, she built one of the most international careers in the country and became one of the great European writers, who also cultivated essays, novels and children’s literature. In Spain, where it had only been translated in 2016, it took off with the Queen Sofía Prize for Ibero-American Poetry in 2021. That same year, Madrid booksellers chose what’s in a name as the best poetry book of 2020.
She was also a passionate translator between English and Portuguese. He broadcast in his native language the works of Emily Dickinson, Shakespeare, Margaret Atwood, John Updike or Nobel Prize in Literature Louise Glück. Conversely, he translated his compatriot Mário de Sá-Carneiro into English. For four years he had a radio show, The sound the verses make when they open (The sound that the verses make at the opening), to speak of poetry. The first thing to do with a poem was to read it aloud: “A poem is poetry.
the anthology The diagonal aspect of things (Looking at things diagonally) is the last book published in Portugal and was presented by her in June in Porto, where she was to receive a tribute at the end of August during the Book Fair.
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