Ricardo Aleixo: Biography and Poems | Brazilian Poetry

Ricardo Aleixo Brazilian Poet

Biography.

Ricardo Aleixo (born in 1960 in Belo Horizonte) is a decidedly interdisciplinary artist. He is a poet, essayist, editor, visual artist, sound designer, singer, composer and performer. He co-founded and curates the FAN (Festival de Arte Negra), the major art and culture festival of the African Diaspora in Brazil.He is the author of six books, including his latest Pesado demais para a ventania: antología poetica (Todavia, 2018). Best known for his poetry’s visual and social characteristics, his work draws connections between concrete poetry and ethno-poetry.

My Man

I am whatever you think a black man is. You almost never think about black men. I will always be what you want a black man to be. I am your black man. I’ll never be only your black man. I am my black man before I am yours. Your black man. A black man is always somebody’s black man. Or they are not a black man at all, but a man. Just a man. When they say that a man is black, what they mean is that he is more black than he is man. But all the same, I’m a black man to you. I’m what you imagine black men to be. I can spill onto your whiteness the blackness that defines a black man in the eyes of someone who is not black. The black man is the invention of the white man. It is believed that to the white man falls the burden of creating all that is good in the world, and that I am good, and that I was created by whites. That they fear me more than they fear other white people. That they fear me, but at the same time desire my forbidden body. That they would scalp me for the doomed love they bear for my blackness. I was not born black. I’m not black every moment of the day. I am black only when they want me to be black. Those times that I am not just black, I am as adrift as the most lost white person. I am not just what you think I am.


Translated by Dan Hanrahan


Shango

The one who
hurls stones
of lightning
against the house
of the meddler.
Leopard,
husband of Ọya.
Leopard,
son of Yemoja.
Shango boils
yams
with the wind
that leaves
his nostrils.
He gives a new name
to the Musulmi.
He is still alive
when they think
he is already dead.
Orisha who kills
the first
and who kills
the twenty-
fifth.
Shango chases down
the Christian
with his cry,
cloud
that overshadows
a corner of the sky.
Leopard
with coruscant gaze,
do not allow
death
to take me
one single day
before my time.

Translated by Rubens Chinali

Night of Calunga in the Bairro Cabula

I died how many times
in the longest night?

In the motionless night,
heavy and long,

I died how many times
on the night of calunga?

The night does not end
and here I am

dying again
nameless and again

dying with each
hole opened

in the musculature
of the person I once was.

I died how many times
in the bleeding bruised night?

In the night of calunga
so long and so heavy,

I died how many times
on that terrible night?

The night most death
and there I was

dying again
voiceless and again

dying with each
bullet lodged

in the deepest depths
of what I remain

(and with each silence
of stone and mortar

that sheds the white
of your indifference

onto the shadow
of what I no longer am

and never will be again).
I died how many times

in the night of calunga?
In the brackish night,

night without end,
the oceanic night, all

emptied of blood,
I died how many times

in the terrible night
the night of calunga

in the Bairro Cabula?
I’ve died so many times

but they never kill me
once and for all.

My blood is a seed
that the wind roots

in the belly of the earth
and I am born again

and again and my name
is that which does not die

before making the night
no longer the silent

partner of death
but the mother that births

children the color of night
and watches over them

as a panther
who shows, in the light

of her gaze and in
the sharpness of her teeth,

just what she will do
if the hand of evil

even imagines
troubling the sleep

of her cub.
I’ve died so many times

but I am always
reborn stronger

brave and beautiful—
all I know is to be.

I am many, I extend
across the world

and across time inside
me and I am so many

one day I will make
life live.

Translated by Dan Hanrahan