Booktails: World by Ana Luísa Amaral
(translated from Portuguese by Margaret Jull Consta)
At the start of 2023, I set an intention to read more translated publications. This led me to pick up some magnificent books, such as Heaven by Mieko Kawakami and Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri. Then, one morning, a translated poetry collection caught my eye as I glanced at a list of upcoming releases from New Directions, and I knew right away that I needed to get my hands on a copy.
That poetry collection was World by Ana Luísa Amaral.
Amaral was one of Portugal’s most beloved and celebrated poets. She began writing poetry at age five, realizing that it was something she simply had to do, and never stopped. A poet of the everyday moments that are often overlooked, Amaral has brought peaceful contemplations, meaningful reflection, and breaths of beauty to those who stumble across her poems.
After just the first few poems in World, I knew Amaral’s poems would be perfect for sharing with our readers in celebration of National Poetry Month!
In World, translated from Portuguese by Margaret Jull Consta, Amaral writes about everything from ants and magpies to Einstein. She takes deeply intimate emotions and desires and turns them into a shared experience. Adventurous and playful, these poems touch on nature, politics, the harshness of our reality, and so much more.
In her poem The Ant: Peregrinatio, we see Amaral use one of the smallest of Earth’s creatures to communicate emotions as big as the universe itself. This concept is revisited in my personal favorite poem from the first sections of the collection. In The Spider: A Romance Overheard in a Garden Among Dense Foliage, we visit a tragic love story between insects:
For just one of your legs I could brave death itself —
here, take my lips, my feet, my blood, my head.
In later sections, Amaral revisits scenes from her childhood.
Memories are transformed into moments of cosmic significance and realizations. Take her poem, Experiments and Evidence, where Amaral recounts a school science experiment involving two magnets and uses it to communicate the challenges women scientists have faced to get the same respect and praise as their male counterparts:
The inside story of History
Rejected for centuries,
the negative self-image of so many before her:
a grain of sand
face to face with the negative of the desert
— for so many centuries
And yet they moved,
a dance with a positive charge flying
over the paper, because most matter
is invisible, yet it exists
(Of which there is ample
Amaral’s skill as a poet is not limited to this collection alone.
I implore you to explore her work further if you feel the pull. Everything I have read from her has felt like words shared between friends late into the night. Magical and meaningful, no matter how seemingly mundane the topic is.
Poetry is a beautifully intentional gift to share with friends, so whether it’s Amaral’s work or a favorite poet of your own, use National Poetry Month as an excuse to spend time with your favorite people and connect over the simplistic beauty of poetry.
Spring Spice Paloma
- 2oz Seedlip Spice 94 (or your favorite tequila)
- 1oz Grapefruit juice
- 1/2oz Lime Juice
- 1/2oz Simple syrup (optional)
- 3oz Club soda
- Grapefruit peel, garnish
- Add Seedlip Spice 94, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
- Shake and strain into your favorite, fun glass.
- Top with club soda and add fresh ice cubes to the glass.
- Garnish with a grapefruit peel.