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Algaravias: Echo Chamber
Algaravias: Echo Chamber

Waly Salomão

translated by Maryam Monalisa Gharavi

Poetry | $16 $14
Spring 2016
Buy"One of the most original and vigorous poets of our time"
The fifth and most critically acclaimed volume of poetry by Syrian-Brazilian poet Waly Salomão (1943-2003), Algaravias: Echo Chamber takes its title from an entangled history, referenced in an etymological epigraph: “From al-garb, the West; that language of the Arabs considered corrupted, little understood by the Spanish. Also a name of a plant, given that name for the messiness of its branches.” Its ruminations on passage, self-placement, virtual geography, human-electronic interaction, poetic consciousness, and mortality are inflected by Salomão’s dual heritage; they also confront the isolating nature of the dictatorship he lived through as well as the aggressively optimistic discourse of post-dictatorship “modernization” efforts: the torrential influx of mass media and multinational corporations, and the sterile, touristic, and militarized landscapes of modern space and spectacle.Excerpt ˇ


And all:
the same paste that the worms of entropy

amalgamate into a single compound.
But to stay, for what and where to,
if there is no remedy, syrup or elixir,
if the foot does not find ground to step on,
even in the do-it-all English footwear
of Dr. Martens,
(the feeling of having your foot stuck in jackfruit)
if traveling is the only way of being happy
and full?

Writing is to avenge loss.
Although the material has all melted,
like melted cheese.

Writing is to avenge?
Of loss?
Notwithstanding? In good standing.Close ˆ

About the Author

Waly Salomão
Waly Salomão (1943-2003) was one of the foremost 20th-century experimental poets of South America. In 1995, his fifth book of poetry, Algaravias: Echo Chamber won Brazil’s highest literary prize, the Prêmio Jabuti. Born in Jequié, Bahia, to a Syrian immigrant father and a Brazilian mother, Salomão carved out an early career as a songwriter to major Tropicália vocalists, including Gal Costa and Caetano Veloso. In 1970, at the height of Brazil’s military regime, he was imprisoned at Carandiru prison in São Paulo. The author of more than ten books, his poetry has been included in major anthologies including Nothing the Sun Could Explain: New Brazilian Poetry (Sun & Moon Press, 2000). Following the author's death, the Waly Salomão Cultural Center was established in Rio de Janeiro.

About the Translator

Maryam Monalisa Gharavi is an artist, poet, and theorist. Her work in visual art and text appears in a wide variety of exhibitions and publications. She completed a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Film & Visual Studies at Harvard University and a B.A. in Film and English at the University of California-Berkeley. She is an editor at The New Inquiry.

Advance Praise

Despite his own immersion in English, one can think of few worlds and languages as distant as Waly Salomão’s tropicalismo tinged and politically hued Brazilian Portuguese and our present American poetic lingo. Yet, somehow, with uncanny magic and scrupulous care, Maryam Monalisa Gharavi has imbued this tongue with a lilt it has not heard before, transmitting the fluidity of Salomão’s airy and slippery lines across caesuras of thought and texture in which not one false step impedes the continuity of song and motion.—Ammiel Alcalay
In Brazil, the name of Waly Salomão will mean different thing to different people. For many he will be remembered as the deft lyricist of some of the most original pop songs that came out in the 1970s. Others will recall him as the cultural entrepreneur who would eventually became Brazil’s first Secretary of Books and Reading during President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva’s first tenure, with the charge to promote literacy among underserved populations. It is not an overstatement to credit Salomão with the task of reorienting the course of Brazilian literature in the aftermath of concrete poetry: his stature as a major poet is only beginning to be assessed.—Sergio Bessa