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This review is taken from PN Review 50, Volume 12 Number 6, July - August 1986.

PRICKLY, PUNGENT POETRY Manuel Bandeira, Recife, translated by Eddie Flintoff (Rivelin Grapheme Press), £3.45 pb.

Manuel Bandeira (1886-1968) was born in Brazil, and became a literary historian, translator and educator. After completing his secondary education he went to Sao Paulo to study architecture. However, tuberculosis forced him to abandon his studies and during his convalescence, first in Brazil and then in Switzerland, he began to write poetry.

His first books of poetry, A Cinza des Horas (1917) and Carnaval (1919) won him widespread recognition as a leading representative of Modernism. Bandeira continued to write along the lines laid down in these early volumes, using free verse, colloquial language and unconventional syntax. Eddie Flintoff, in his very able translation of this selection, captures the qualities of the original. From 'New Poetics' we have a sense of the poet's view of the world: 'And the poem should be . . ./Something to drive the smug reader mad'. The poet is impatient with the received view of poetry as 'the early morning dew', prefers by far


. . . loony lyrics, great bibulous ballads,
the prickly pungent poetry of the dead
drunk . . ('Poetica')


Repeatedly we are shown the fine visual sense of the poet, as in 'The Cactus' and 'Idea and Reality':


That towerblock towers as high into the rain-
          rinsed air
As it descends into the puddle on the ground
          in front
And between the idea and the reality, in the dust
          between, ...


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