"Compared to my heart's desire/ the sea is a drop."
Adélia Prado's poetry is a poetry of abundance. These poems overflow whith the humble, grand, various stuff of daily life - necklaces, bicycles, fish; saints and prostitutes and presidents; innumerable chickens and musical instruments. There is a lot of the color yellow here, and almost as much mathematics. And, seemingly at every turn, there is food.
I first met Adélia Prado in 1985, in her chicken in Divinópolis. Ever since stubling on a sever-line poem by her in a obscure Brazilian literary magazine, I had been wanting to sit across a table from his woman and talk about my translating the rage and delight of her poetry into English. When, years later, I arrived on her doorstep, manuscript of translations in hand, and bluterd that I was famished, she was visibly pleased - the only other North American she had met had refused to eat a thing - and sat me down to a huge meal of beans and rice whith all the trimmings. Appetite is crucial to Prado:
Forty years old: I don't want a knife
or even cheese -
I want hunger.
This poet cooks, eats, chews memoris, confesses to gluttony: "I nibble vegetables as if they were carnal encounters."
Sexual hunger is admitted as frankly as any other. We see a woman tempted by "the vibrations of the flesh," by "the precise configuration of lips," who listens "most closely to the voice that is impassioned," a "woman startled by sex,/ but delighted."
There is an abundance of dark things also. There are "drowning victms, chopping blocks,/ forged signatures." There is cncer. There are moments of quiet desesperation:
What thick rope, what a ful pail,
what a fat sheaf of bad things.
What an incoherent life is mine,
what dirty sand.
The appeal of these poems has to do with their wonderful specificity, their neckedness, their desire to embrece neverything in sight - as well as things invisible. Here is a "creature of the body" who experiences great spiritual craving, ho believes that spirit is almost as palpable. (...)