NYS Writers Institute, October 2, 2012
A native of Brazil’s dry, impoverished northeast, Salgado Maranhão is a leading contemporary Afro-Brazilian poet, as well as a songwriter for many of Brazil’s most prominent jazz, samba and pop musicians. The son of a black fieldworker (mother) and a member of the white plantocracy (father), Maranhão describes himself as “born both to slavery and the manor house.”
Translated by Alexis Levitin, Maranhão’s first bilingual collection in English and Portuguese, Blood of the Sun [Sol Sangüíne], will be released in September 2012.
Gregory Rabassa, bestselling translator of One Hundred Years of Solitude, called the new translation, “a perfect English rendering of Salgado Maranhão’s deft expression of the tonality of this people and land.” Writing in World Literature Today, Kaitlin Hawkins said that Maranhão’s new work “combines his love of jazz with his love of the written word. In verses that pair socio-political thought with abstract and metaphysical subjects, Maranhão’s lines move with the rhythms inherent to a Brazilian jazz ballad.” Antonio Carlos Secchin, one of Brazil’s preeminent literary scholars, said, “Maranhão has reached the high point of his work (so far)… a speculative intelligence and a celebration of the corporality of the world are expressed with great metaphoric vigor.”
Maranhão recently received Brazil’s highest literary award, the Brazilian Academy of Letters Prize, for his collected poems, A Cor da Palavra [The Color of the Word] (2011). An earlier collection, Mural de Ventos [Mural of Winds] (1998) received the prestigious Prêmio Jabuti. His other collections include A pelagem da tigra [Tiger’s Fur] (2009), O Beijo da Fera [The Kiss of the Beast] (1996), and Os Punhos da Serpente [The Snake’s Fists] (1989). Maranhão has also written lyrics and composed music for an impressive roster of contemporary Brazilian musicians including Amelinha, Elba Ramalho, Ney Matogrosso, Paulinho da Viola, Rosa Marya Colin, Vital Farias, and Zizi Possi among others. A tribute album by various artists, Amoragio, was released in 2006.
Alexis Levitin, Professor of English at SUNY Plattsburgh, has published more than twenty-five books of translation from Portuguese. His translations have appeared in Partisan Review, American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, and hundreds of other literary journals. Earlier translations include Clarice Lispector’s Soulstorm (1989), Eugenio de Andrade’s Forbidden Words (2003), and the Ecuadorean poetry anthology Tapestry of the Sun (2009).He is also the author of a travel guide co-written with Gregory Rabassa, Brazil: A Traveler's Literary Companion (2009).
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.