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Contributor Spotlight on Adélia Prado

by Dan Froid

In June of last year, the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry’s Lifetime Recognition Award was bestowed on a poet whom, I suspect, most American readers know little about. And yet she is one of the most respected poets in her country, Brazil. Fellow poet Robert Hass paid her a superlative tribute: he noted that she has been compared to figures as disparate as Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and St. Francis of Assisi.

Adélia Prado is the author of six books of poetry and seven of prose, only a few of which are available in English. The above link also contains a video of Prado, accompanied by her longtime translator Ellen Doré Watson, as the two read selections of her poetry in both Portuguese and English. Watson also conducted a fascinating interview with Prado for Bomb magazine. She notes that ten years after she—at forty years of age—debuted on the scene,

it was not just the literary folk who were still trying to figure out this remarkable poet from the backwaters of Minas Gerais. Psychiatrists in droves made the pilgrimage to Divinópolis to delve into the psyche of this devout Catholic who wrote startlingly pungent poems of and from the body; they were politely served coffee and sent back to the city.

Read the interview here, and then check out a couple of her poems here.

Prado also appears in the current issue of Prairie Schooner. Her poem “Snow White” forms part of our portfolio, “Women and the Global Imagination.” Here’s an excerpt of the poem:

            I fit better in the world
            if I accept what I had judged impossible:
            “Not every German knows Mozart.”
            Of course—it’s not required.
            But every country has its universal,
            and that’s all it takes for us to understand each other.
            I feel at home with the Russians
            because they can’t see a trace of fog, a trickle of river, a flower in the grass
            without stopping to spew diminutives for interminable minutes.
            Just like the bandit Riobaldo who knows the whole world—
            and has Minas Gerais in the palm of his hand.
            Hyperbole gets me closer to where I want to go.

To read the rest—and to discover more great fiction and poetry by women around the world—check out our new issue. For more information about Prairie Schooner, visit our website.