Luiza Franco Moreira, associate professor of Comparative Literature, specializes in twentieth-century Brazilian literature, and is also interested in 20th century literature of North and South America. Her book “Meninos, Poetas e Heróis” (“Children, Poets, and Heroes”), (EDUSP, 2000) explores the ways that poetry participates in cultural and political hegemony, through a discussion of the work of Cassiano Ricardo, a Brazilian poet and political propagandist. The book has been well received.
Moreira recently made the creative jump from scholarly writing to poetry and has had her first collection, “O Exagero do Sol” (“Excess of the Sun”), reviewed favorably in the February 2002 issue of the Brazilian publication Cult. The reviewer, who notes the simplicity of her language and technique, stresses that Moreira’s poetry is far from easy; it is constructed, rather, “with a great deal of specifically literary sophistication.”
What does the title, O Exagero do Sol, mean in English?
Oh boy, that’s a hard one to translate. Sol means sun. Exagero means something like excess. So it would mean “Excess of the sun,” but it’s hard to translate “O Exagero do Sol” as “excess of the sun” because the word excesso exists in Portuguese; excesso would be a very close correspondent to the English “excess.” If I wanted to call my book “Excess of the sun,” I would have called it “O excesso do sol,” not “O exagero do sol.” I chose a word that is slightly different. We use this word for people when they make drama out of something ordinary, or when they make too much of something.
How would you describe your work?
They are very short poems, about a moment, or a feeling, or a single image, and often about all of that all at the same time. It’s always more fun to read poetry than to talk about it. We’re in upstate New York, so you’ll understand this poem, “Outono” or “Autumn”: We are not going to die / One leaf said to the other.
How long have you been writing poetry?
For 20 years. There are poems in this book that I wrote in the early ’80s, and there’s one poem I wrote last year, just before I published the book.
Who reviewed your book of poetry?
It’s called “Cult,” which is short for “Culture.” It’s like a literary journal, but not for small circles. It’s something people who have an interest in literature read, so it has a wider appeal than an academic journal. It’s not big-time media, but it’s not small press. I was very pleased and surprised that it was reviewed. It was my first book of poetry. I don’t know if I even think of myself as a poet.
So you’ve done literary criticism and poetry. Where will you go next?
Poetry is something I can’t stop writing, so I’m sure I’m going to go on writing and translating poetry. I’ll continue my scholarly work, of course. I will go on doing research on modern poetry in Brazil and in the Americas as a whole. The main project that I am working on right now is an anthology of the poetry of Cassiano Ricardo, the writer I discussed in my last book. This summer I hope to go to a conference in Brazil, a meeting of the Brazilian Association of Comparative Literature. I have been preparing, together with my colleague Fernando Rosenberg from Romance Languages, a symposium on “Nation and Affect.”