Poet shares native language reading

Claudia Roquette-Pinto, a Brazilian poet, came to give a poetry reading in her native language on Monday afternoon, in the International Studies Building.

The reading marked the first stop in the United States on Roquette-Pinto’s tour visiting American universities.

“My interest in poetry began early in life, and I fell in love deeply with poems,” she said.

Roquette-Pinto has written five books of poetry over the last 20 years: Os Dias Gagos in 1991, Saxifraga in 1993, Zona de Sombra in 1997, Corola in 2000 and most recently, Margem de Manobra in 2006. Due to the popularity of her poems, they have been translated into many different languages, including English, Spanish, French and German.

Roquette-Pinto thinks translation can be an entire writing process of its own.

“I know how difficult it is,” she said. “It’s a kind of re-writing.”

In one poem, called “Castanhas mulheres,” Roquette-Pinto wrote, “Se abertas/com a destra surpresa/de pequenas mãos/cegas a tal alfabeto.” In English, this was translated to, “If opened/with the surprising skill/of small hands/blind to such an alphabet.”

The poem is from the book “Saxifraga” and was translated by Michael Palmer, a version that Roquette-Pinto said she was satisfied with.

At the start of the event, Roquette-Pinto read “Castanhas mulheres” as well as her other written poems.

She only delivered the poems in the original Portuguese, with another person reading an English translation of the poem directly following.

Roquette-Pinto mentioned her book “Corola” as one that she really connected with.

“I always look for new ideas when I finish a book,” she said. “I’m trying to do something that I have never done before, for instance, an essay. ‘Corola’ is well-rounded, and it reads like one long poem.”

Roquette-Pinto described her writing process as long and difficult.

“All my poems are related to other poems in the book,” she said. “The whole process is really exhausting since you have to re-write again and again.”

Yuan Yue, freshman in Business, came to the reading and discussion that followed.

“I liked this discussion; it helped me to learn more about Claudia Roquette-Pinto and her poems,” she said. “She also answered my questions and concerns. I’m so lucky to be here.”

Despite not being an avid reader of poetry, Chengyi Zhang, sophomore in Engineering, also enjoyed Roquette-Pinto’s writing.

“The poems were really attractive,” he said. “I was really moved.”