Maria Brás Ferreira
Maria Brás Ferreira (Lisbon, 11/25/1998) has a degree in Portuguese Studies from the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences from Nova University of Lisboa. She now attends the homonymous master's degree at the same college. In King’s College London she studied the courses “19th Century Fiction in Brazil and Portugal”, “Modernism: Outside in and Introduction to Film Studies”. Founder, director and editor of the literary magazine Lote, which also features poetry and essays from the autor. In 2019, Maria attended the literary festivals Folio and Correntes d’Escritas while also participating in the film cycle (partnership of Medeia and the Portuguese Psychoanalytic Society) “Mulheres do Avesso”. She was a member of the film club As Gaivotas, and is currently part of the programming department of the CINENOVA film festival. Recently, Maria participated in the colloquium “Encontros Imprevistos” (NOVA, FCT, IELT), with a paper on the Portuguese writer Nuno Bragança. In November 2020, her first book, Hidrogénio — Manual de Desoxidação, was published in the elemeNtário collection from Flan de Tal editions. After representing Portugal in “Alguén que respira!” literary festival as a new poetic voice, Maria is now coordinating the independent editions stand of the MAP Festival, where she coordinated and promoted debate sessions between poets and translators. The second book of the author is schedule for publishing this year.
Hidrogénio condenses, in a fragmented manner, certain themes that cannot be disassociated. Memory, materialised in the photographs displayed throughout the book, “give us back the dead”, making way for a poem like “Sea to Sea”, where childhood and death circle back to each other from God. God, or the systematic remembrance of finitude, is the opposite place of the poem “I prefer the secluded places, where God won’t wander and from where one can just imagine, infinitely”. The poem, a weapon both mortal and for mortals, that doesn’t exist, like the house, “constantly returning”, condenses, with the use of images, the parts of a body which, beyond “disappearing in the/white room”, exist in the feminine: “Tearing the virgin,/Requiring virginity./ Two tough times — there can only be three.”. There is, undoubtedly, in the poems of Hidrogénio, a critical interest, which does not seize to be raw and voracious in “The submissive Little women[that]/talk a lot amongst themselves,/or rather,/to themselves.” and that, between more hearts, carry the weight of reminiscence (“What I don’t know: the body,/What I most remember: the voice.”)
“To the reader”, which purposefully interrupts the content flow of the book, defines Hidrogénio as “a book of life”, that “some generous, avid readers, will consider as poetry”. The limits of what Hidrogénio is, which does not serve another purpose aside from deviating us to inquiry, for what it is definitely not, proposing there forth the second part of the book, linear and quotidian. Here, in comparison to those that came before it, the photographs that surge intermittently between the texts not only become clearer in terms of light, as they transport us to the physical and concrete place of the city and of love. Lisbon, Berlin: “from two to be both”.
Patrícia Lino in Concretas como Frutos, Nítidas como Pássaros II: Regina Guimarães, Margarida Vale de Gato, Maria Brás Ferreira. Escamandro: 2020.
Tradução de Diogo Albarran.
Stardust / (Untitled)
I came because anonymity spoke louder.Translated by James Topham
Detonating the sky,
giving life a brash smile,
certain that the end is the
sad beginning of insomnia.Translated by James Topham
Neither / (Untitled)
A lot of love much lacking
Not long talk a lot
Little talking so much so little.Translated by James Topham
Windows give us light like photographs give us back the dead— it’s the lightest of bodies that warms and destroys.Translated by James Topham
Sea to Sea / (Untitled)
When I was young, many hours on the beach made me think about what the bottom of the ocean was like. If I could live there by the fish’ laws — from the smallest to the largest ones — and the creatures I would go to the lengths of making up to help set up girlish plays. However, for sad and unknown reasons, to inhabit the ocean depths, some God, floating and majestic, was made to choose between one of two deaths: either mine or that of all the creatures born in the sea (who, for that reason, had no idea how beautiful the sea was).
Art dies on the beach. Joy breaks out.
God will never know about beautiful things, because he is everywhere, that is, he was always born, is always being reborn, with no legs to cross or arms to love a tenuous love, insolent, or even pathetic, until the miracle perishes at the appointed hour.
God begins on the beach. He dies of joy: artistic expertise.
I prefer the secluded places, where God won’t wander and from where one can just imagine, infinitely (the trembling images, thin membranes of voluptuous boredom). Giving one’s hands the clear touch of the horizon, and eyes the entirely diffuse colour of distance. In the end, it shall be what it is and what we are: tiny apertures, pre-emptive disquiet, the blown withdrawal of a perceived truth, the shelter imposed on the wait, gagged by screaming.
I continually got along with the help of my complicated acrobatics, swimming in the air, flying close to the ground, in the hope of feeling without hurting, resisting resistance. I preferred to raise the hydrogenic words up to my feet — inhabit the composition, aiming at the clamorous interruption of brevity.
The sea remains, and I publicly die thus, loving its precipices, sea to sea, that at last all its untamed fauna remains for me, with no unique tenderness, only affectation. I leave victorious, and there will be no cowardice in this that cannot be called beauty or breed.
Let’s hope we go on, we, people, making a life for ourselves by the water, so that we can own it better and longer. From afar, the days in the last dive — thus a solstice keeps the treasure of the whole year.
EXULTATIONTranslated by James Topham
The morning’s curtain rises,
eyes opposing the light,
— I was accustomed to hurting friends to better protect them.
You are certain of this: that
there is no mourning, polished iron, you dangerously
change arms, without the
amputation of a cherished limb,
preferably one of the perfectly useless ones.Translated by James Topham
At home, constantly turning back
We get in the car and escape
around the nearest corner.
Returning home after death
is just inhabiting itTranslated by James Topham
in the past.
The future has a price and rocks will yet rain from the sky; when one takes care of life like one lends death. We’ll still see hydrogen for nothing, historicism in thin metal cans, in fleamarkets. God will peek through the dusty cap and all he’ll do is blink.
The hanging gouache paints,
the globe howling beneath the colour,
my body disappearing in the
white room.Translated by James Topham
Overbearing / (Untitled)
Tearing the virgin,
Two tough times — there can now only be three.
Mimicry is worth the suffocation
of not knowing who touched our hands
with their heart.Translated by James Topham
The submissive little women
talk a lot amongst themselves,Translated by James Topham
Let freedom be —Translated by James Topham
not knowing what to do with time.
Ecology / (Untitled)
It is a wired communication. Long-distance.
And it’s not for that that the trip won’t take place. Memory is the
Smallest heart a woman keeps close to her bosom.
And destroying the night will always be the bitterest victory of morning.Translated by James Topham
Aphorisms / (Untitled)
We should look at ourselves from within,
to within. Look for the untranslatability
of punitive hearsay.Translated by James Topham
God said, the Being responded.
The equivocal spasm.Translated by James Topham
A clearing opens in your smile. I level the crust on my lips with the air I forgot to set aside for any old emergency. Levelling, building, collapsing. Calm always comes to me from a forgetting. Erupting, I understand gestures with a catlike instinct. I understand inside. You insist on the details: it’s “within”, not just “in”. That would be hollow. This way, you tell me, there are legs, steps, tumbles, if your luck’s in. It is useful to note that you walk from point A to point B. For it is cruelly so. Still, we go on like this, and especially for that reason, losing ourselves.
I don’t believe in perimetres, but I memorise the periodic table. It teaches me nothing. Taught, falls persist — felt, chalk, coal, or petal — teachings.Translated by James Topham
Hold me,Translated by James Topham
eagerness — focusing on the great evidence of things.
Volver / (Untitled)
Covering the hiding-place with the sparsest of fabrics,
teaches birds to fly wide,
rummaging the mortal remains of perishable relatives,
fondling the memory and exchanging it for a gift
previously misleadingly perishable —
on the delayed sentence, the oblong claws
of the swindlers.
Meanwhile, swimming far away, flaunting irregularity
for no one.
uncovering the hiding-place, so nothing remains but the weary
Always waiting for the best show,
surfacing and putting away the sun before it
goes back to being a star.Translated by James Topham
Requiem / (Untitled)
What I don’t know: the body,
What I most remember: the voice.Translated by James Topham
There are rooms that are corridors,
like there are lobbies that offer us the end,
and gardens that were trodden lovers’ suites,
and suites which insist on being worn out offices.
And laboratories which are
filthy, filthy, filthy.
We’re going around posting tables and names, and what we don’t lack
are old relics, older than the cathedral, which, when it was
young was not a cathedral — perhaps it was “possible”: either revolution or
(Yes, we know, we know, the erosion! The possible oddity
the soluble fish,
the old woman, lonely, sleepy, ragged, circling the bed.)
But, though it may not look like it,
and it’s delightful that ancient knowledge is not allowed to be thrown away,
there are beaches that set mouths alight, and piping hot coffee that
there are — and I see this with a juggler’s certainty — circuses that
sadden and make the airs and legs
that sustain them desirable: love is just this way
for the rotund,
flickering trapeze-artists, clumsily paradoxical, in a way
that is convenient to beauty.
There are children who hurt when they laugh loudly and stick any foot
in their brother’s eye,
One of the five mammals in the house.
There are dogs that fall at the first ray of sunshine and make us
for sleep, the truant brutality
of a simple pleasure.
There are cunning cats with paws that are
malicious pillows and who love each other for that.
There are loaves of bread shaped like breasts to kiss
and we see ourselves before the mirror devouring the bread,
like a bloody slaughterer, with no eroticism
not even in the idle morning.
There are colours that never taint, unbridled by themselves.
There are moments in expert handwritingTranslated by James Topham
where mistakes are possible,
the chrysalis encouraging the dream:
come, there is still life left,
like such a life there is
which can still be lived.
Days race by,
full of chores,
at times dust free, ready, carefree,
and at the building entrances they make us say good morning,
like one who digs a whole crater,
damaging a well whose strange depth
pawns the mortgageTranslated by James Topham
at the end of the month.
Being a buzzing
to the unstable pose
of the neighbour across the way
who insists on filling the rear clothesline of the building
with only black silk stockings — that symmetry
fragile and full,Translated by James Topham
unaware of neighbours’ desires.
Wedding Night / (Untitled)
for Jorge Luis Borges
Looking like a tired old man,
at the table incorrigibly placed against the wall,
I look out on the streets of Lisbon.
Like a sponge, I take in what I find most familiar
and I go back on others’ footsteps, withered by
taking care of the dust that falls inside the ironed costumes,
that give off odours, chemical, yet pleasant.
The latest news is always the most doleful
when life is a mirage
— through a rusty tube — on another afternoon,
embalmed in the tearful eyes of a former girlfriend.
And then one starts wondering: how many hands
luminously touch, today, like putrid lava without wounded skin,
the saggy breasts, the arched legs, and the brow of
The streets are untidy, but in urban untidiness
eager lovers delight themselves in adding their
to the single girls,
and, in the meanwhile, I write — and the fingertips give in to the
difference of the silliest of dreams—
the hand I did not surround, the hand I waited for
in the afternoon, on the other afternoon,
of the Lisbon in my streets, and which will not return.Translated by James Topham
After-hours / (Untitled)
I disciplined myself at the school of whim,
each turn draws the gravity of another everlasting
sturdier than the former,
and gives legs stretched out on the towel
the leisure of a body under the sun,
the wrinkled maiden,
a certain ancient arrogance: we gather around the pretention
of telling other people’s stories
in the dusty ocean
of an uninhabited understanding.
At the after-hours we devour chocolate,
a thousand drops of port hang
from the languorous mouth
the fruit trembles on the stone floor,
and we try to make this a sign of the gods,
who only arrive when we’ve parted,Translated by James Topham
The heat rises
perishes on the surface that harbours
it best.Translated by James Topham
The image perishes
in the eyes at the mercy
of memory.Translated by James Topham
Performative / (Untitled)
—Blue Fairy, please turn me into a
Lorca for Bulerías / (Untitled)
The bride looks out over the windowsillTranslated by James Topham
on the cunning morning of the big day,
and the dust lingers in
and the old men hawk
and the heels tread the cheap lace.
The bride is happy,
the bride believes that the neighbourhood is the whole universe
and the horses neigh the right
How much desire does a windowsill not manage to support
with such darkness, such age, and such decay?
The Night dawns, the Poet Stays for Longer / (Untitled)
at the end of the day of the death of Manuel Cintra
At night, the day’s arms embrace
when a poet dies,
and the sun which doesn’t become us
returns to the antechamber of life,
submerges colour to closed eyes.
The hope in a bark is heard,
the longing of the wound rocking the former rhythm:
light peeks through the veil, marries time, the body pays the price,
Dawn, at last.
All human, half Christian,
(for they don’t know how to love one without immediately loving two)
the truth a deep pain which doesn’t forget to dig,
all that befits a poet to be without fitting.
You, who from life knew the desire to live what isn’t lived
but it is only sensed,
You, who from skin, knew the storm of its fortifying
So you leave us that ‘you’ larger than I,
lover of one’s neighbour,
the following more certain than the right one,
the wrong one more loved than the diligent one,
morning so brief, the translucent night so long
in this open room with a white façade.
The guests leave,
the night dawns no longer
remembering how many nights have already been stirred.
Later, life leaves, someday,
other guests will certainly return.
They dance, minutes, exchanges, and entanglements sway.
Everyone has a right to their moment. And they come and go.Translated by James Topham
The poet sleeps, the poet stays
I believe I would collapse if I failed to meet you,
my dry mouth giving off fumes: vulcanic and vile,
silence would become deafening in that arranged
malice of courage.
From there that I would subtract you from the world and pour you between
the discreet light of cold.Translated by James Topham