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It’s blood, it’s universe

Gilda Nunes Barata has recently reissued through Lello the book Saudade, in a trilingual version (Portuguese, English and Spanish). A version that is much improved when compared to the 2001 counterpart, with the title “O que é a saudade, querido José Maria”.

The current book’s hardcover and format, larger than the usual, makes it properly physical, emphasizing the graphic design, now illustrated by the poet who follows the text with an Art Deco blue tracery, which reinvents itself throughout the reading, along with the twisting discourse.

Saudade is a long prose poem, sub-divided into 27 chapters that dwell on longingness, fear, mystery, soul, a wound, an illusion or a seaweed, among others – giving birth to an endless stream of reflections, questionings and speculations, juxtaposed on each other without a blatant logic, except perhaps the diachronic succession of inspiring moments that witnessed their birth. The author herself is the one who authorizes us to go through this interpretative hypothesis when she writes: “(…) why do they tell us to proofread a text if the redeeming thing about it is being ours? When the only thing worth doing is being us in everything we do?…”

Creating a complex mesh of sounds, rhythms, meanings and images that complement each other, shatter, sublimate and present a challenge, this exuberant and poignant text demands from the reader the willingness to listen to it in its original indifference between the sensible and the intelligible, the good and the evil, love and terror, the smile and the tears. The poetry of Gilda Nunes Barata falls short of duality! Everything is entwined in this poetic dawn of the first day of creation, when what already existed had yet to be named.

Only after absorbing the nameless mystery within us, we can, with the poet, sail throughout the “movement of the boats rocked by your smile”, visit the “castles that are wells of putrid water”, or wash ourselves in the “waterfalls pregnant of absoluteness”.

This whole book is unclassifiable and undefinable from the genre standpoint, circumventing our lethargic labelling efforts, and also when we consider its holistic construction.

Albeit dedicate to a nephew of the writer, who, at that time, was three years old – with the book assuming itself as the hallmark of their profound bonding -, Saudade has few childish moments, except the moments when the language, perhaps stunned by its own origin, is adorned by puerile diminutives, directly addressing the child – the author’s alter ego – and spoiling her with cuddling stories, like when she reminds her “that the most disgusting little gecko likes to have its place in the universe. (…) It would like to have someone to kiss it…”.

But, right in the following chapter, dedicated to the mystery – which “does not exist but is everywhere” -, Gilda Nunes Barata advises his nephew José Maria to follow it “close to you, glued to me, in a secret that you did not dare to reveal… because (…) you’re the son of God and of his lie.”

The extensive poetic work of Gilda Nunes Barata – this book is no exception – is deeply marked by a sense of loss, incompleteness and emotional exile, with the poet taking love as the ultimate redeemer; the universal love that loves forever and loves everything unconditionally – a flower, a person, an illusion… -, love as a visible manifestation of the supernatural, which reveals or hides itself. This is unveiled when, depicting the mystery, the poet identifies it as the “unsaid goodbye, which God turned it into something everlasting” or, also, when “the person we love the most, who we see as a shadow, is a clear being who wanted us, edified us and then said goodbye. A goodbye without knowing the reason why, the destination, the belongings. But away that person went. And we still sense its presence. We still wait for that person every corner or we see it in praying in a shrine, in an ocean trail…”

Like Nicholas of Cusa, in The Hidden God, Gilda Nunes Barata could very well be that individual to whom they asked: “Who are you? I’m Christian. Who do you love? God. Who is this God that you worship? I do not know. How can you worship seriously something you do not know? I love because I do not know…”, the elementary argument to tackle the temptation of finitude.

But, after all, what is the object of longingness of Gilda Nunes? “It is the humus eager to be a flower…”.

José Sousa Machado. Was born in Luanda, Angola in 1956. His school education was in Lisboa, Portugal, where he attended the french school, Charles Lepierre, Colégio São João de Brito and completed secondary school in Liceu Pedro Nunes. Still in Lisboa attended Instituto Superior Técnico. In 1975 moved to Brazil and graduated in Economy in the Faculdade de Ciências Políticas e Económicas in Rio de Janeiro where he also studied literature for 3 years in the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro. In 1981, back in Lisboa, worked as journalist, art critic and cultural coordinator for the newspapers Correio da Manhã, Semanário and ABC magazine. Gave his colaboration in the cultural area to the Jornal de Letras, Diário de Notícias, Diário Popular, Diário de Lisboa among other publications and periodicals. Founded and directed the magazines Artes & Leilões, Arte Ibérica, Agenda Cultural de Lisboa and Aprender a Olhar. Since 2014 in charge for project Livraria Sá da Costa.

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