Something in between: The Languages of Poetry

By Staff Writer Sawyer Pollitt.

April is national poetry month and while we as Americans often see English-language poetry, it is important to acknowledge the wide scope of poetry that exists throughout the world. Living in New England, and the Dartmouth area in particular, one language comes up much more often than others: Portuguese.

On April 16th, the center for Portuguese Culture and Studies along with Tagus Press hosted Ana Luisa Amaral and Margaret Jull Costa in the Ferreira Mendes Portuguese Archives. The pair gave a talk titled Something in between: The Languages of Poetry where they expounded on poetry written and spoken in the Portuguese language.

These two experts are uniquely suited to speak on the subject. Dr. Ana Luisa Amaral is a Portuguese born author and professor at the university of Porto in Lisbon. She focuses her research on the work of English and American Poetry, Comparative Poetics and Feminist Studies. By virtue of her work being translated a multitude of languages, it shows her commitment to reaching a broad audience and sharing her work, which would normally be relegated to one group of Portuguese speaking people.
Margaret Jull Costa is almost the inverse of her co-presenter Dr. Amaral.

She is a British born Portuguese-English translator who has worked on a number of Nobel prize winning novels. She is known in particular for her recent translations of the work of José Saramago. Her expertise in the Portuguese language is also shown through the multitude of awards she has won, along with the passion she clearly exudes when discussing her work.

The pair are currently working together to translate a book written by Dr. Amaral. In the past they have collaborated to translate Amaral’s What’s in a Name. Their partnership clearly goes further than just work however. Though they may be colleagues, they are taking the time to come out to UMass Dartmouth, a rich trove of Portuguese language and culture to offer unique and important takes on the role of foreign language in English language poetry.

During her time as a writer, Dr. Amaral has been recognized as one of Portugal’s foremost authors and poets. Her work has been translated into many languages such as English, Italian, Dutch, and Swedish. By having the experience of having her work put into the languages and subsequently the contexts of other cultures, her views on the subject are particularly impactful.

The talk itself was interesting and informative. Although many in attendance had a vested interest in Portuguese culture there was certainly something there for everyone. Professors, students, staff, and administrators were all in attendance.

Aside from the promise of refreshments, this talk and others like it are important for the enrichment of the UMass Dartmouth community. Expanding ones mindset to include a variety of cultural values through this kind of talk is just what the translation of foreign poetry can be about.

This mission is often the goal of the Center for Portuguese Language and Culture and it is a goal they are often able to accomplish through their various events.

Something in between: The Languages of Poetry was the last event planned by the Center for Portuguese language and culture for the Spring 2019 semester. However, they are sure to start up again during the Fall 2019 semester, bringing the same quality of Lusophonic content that UMass Dartmouth has come to be known for.

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