With the elliptical looping of a butterfly alighting on one’s sleeve, the poems of Ana Luísa Amaral arrive as small hypnotic miracles. Spare and beautiful in a way reminiscent both of Szymborska and of Emily Dickinson (it comes as no surprise that Amaral is the leading Portuguese translator of Dickinson), these poems—in Margaret Jull Costa’s gorgeous English versions—seamlessly interweave the everyday with the dreamlike and ask “What’s in a name?”
“How solid is a name if answered to,” Amaral answers, but “like the Rose—no, like its perfume: ungovernable. Free.”
Here is a lucid, forthright poet charmed by the paradoxes of each poem, by the tiny gestures and traces of life faceted within each poem, and by the vocation of poetry itself.
—Rachel Blau DuPlessis
Inspired: Amaral’s poetry possesses an intimacy that grants it a sense of timelessness. Yet it speaks to the moment we find ourselves in today.
—Translation and Literature
For the Portuguese poet Ana Luísa Amaral, poetry and everyday life are closely intertwined. Her understated, elliptical, beautifully crafted, and ironic poems draw largely on domestic life but also on Greek myth, the Bible, and local architecture. What’s in a Name is both funny and deeply poignant: it should have a very wide readership!
Brilliant: her words celebrate the hidden potentiality inside every woman—and the spontaneity of life itself, even in the contemplation of sudden death.
Ana Luísa Amaral insists upon a reflection on art as an intensely human act. Her poetics is inextricably enmeshed with ethics.
—Professor Paulo de Medeiros
Amaral carves a space for fragmentation, uncertainty, and meditative silence within the repertoire of inherited forms. In this accomplished volume and translation, Amaral’s subtle experimentation makes strange an artistic repertoire we thought we knew.