The Poet and His Translator: An Interview with Salgado Maranhão and Alexis Levitin

Michael Scott Doyle, Cassidy Schenley


Salgado Maranhão is one of Brazil’s leading contemporary poets. His collected poems, A Cor da Palavra (The Color of the Word), won Brazil’s highest award, the Prêmio de Poesia da Academia Brasileira de Letras, for the year 2011. An earlier collection, Mural de Ventos (Mural of Winds), won the prestigious Prêmio Jabuti in 1999. In addition to nine books of poetry, including Punhos da Serpente (The Snake’s Fists), O Beijo da Fera (The Kiss of the Beast), and the recent A Pelagem da Tigra (Tiger’s Fur), he has written song lyrics and made recordings with some of Brazil’s leading jazz and pop musicians. Dr. Alexis Levitin, a Distinguished Professor of English at SUNY-Plattsburgh, has published 32 books in translation, among them Clarice Lispector’s Soulstorm (New Directions), Carioca Invitation by Sandra Lopes (Escrita Fina Edições, 2010), and Forbidden Words: The Selected Poems of Eugenio de Andrade (New Directions), as well as translations in over two hundred literary magazines. His translation of Salgado Maranhão’s Blood of the Sun was published by Milkweed Editions in 2012. It is Maranhão’s first book to appear in English translation.[ This introductory information is taken from the publicity material provided by Alexis Levitin for his October 11, 2012 visit to UNC Charlotte.] The interview was conducted by Dr. Michael Scott Doyle (MSD) at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte on October 11, 2012, where Salgado Maranhão (SM) and Alexis Levitin (AL) gave a bi-lingual reading from Blood of the Sun. It was conducted in English and Dr. Levitin, Salgado Maranhão’s literary translator, doubled as the Brazilian poet’s interpreter during the unscripted interview, which was the looser, more spontaneous format preferred by both poet and translator. About this particular collection of poems, Blood of the Sun, Luiz Fernando Valente, Professor of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies and Comparative Literature at Brown University, writes in the volume’s Afterword that “The publication of Blood of the Sun (Sol Sangüíneo) is the felicitous outcome of a spectacular collaboration between one of the most influential and innovative contemporary Brazilian poets and one of the most accomplished English language translators from the Portuguese” (147). Renowned translator Gregory Rabassa celebrates the slender volume as well, quoted on the book’s jacket as follows: “In Blood of the Sun, Alexis Levitin has given us a perfect English rendering of Salgado Maranhão’s deft expression of the tonality of this people and land [Brazil’s northeast].”

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Qualis (CAPES): B1 (Quadriênio 2013-2016)



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