Translation Tuesday: “Pyrotechnics” by Adriana Lisboa

A boy had a dream about fireworks.

In this piece by Adriana Lisboa that could be classified as micro-fiction or a prose poem, a reader discovers a poet who has transformed fireworks into words. Reminiscent of the Brazilian writer’s longer work, the piece plays with the possibilities of language and its sound in a way that is surprising to the reader. Enjoy! 

A boy had a dream about fireworks.

Years later, he found out that words sometimes formed verses. He became a poet and during his entire life he wanted to describe the itinerary of that dream from his childhood. He dug through dictionaries and discovered the possibility of creating hybrid images like mermaids or manticores. Verses that sounded like freshly brewed coffee, that corrupted like pure sugar-cane rum, that saved like a white lily.

Years later, he published his anthology of poems. The last one was called The Parallel Fires and it was the realization of his life project: fireworks transformed in verses.

Years later, a certain reader bought the anthology. When she was reading the last poem, she noticed that the words took on different colors and shone against the black background of the white page, obfuscating the stars, and impregnating the whole book with a discreet smell of gunpowder.

Translated from the Portuguese by Edgar Garbelotto

Adriana Lisboa was born in Rio de Janeiro. With degrees in Music and Literature, she is the author of ten widely translated fiction books, among which five novels, a collection of flash fiction, and books for children. She was hailed as a new star of Brazilian literature after the publication of her 2001 novel Sinfonia Em Branco [Symphony in White], which received the prestigious José Saramago Prize. She has also been long-listed for the International Impac Dublin Literary Award 2015 with her novel Crow Blue. 

Edgar Garbelotto is a writer and translator. He is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing: Fiction and an MA in Literary Translation at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His translation of João Gilberto Noll’s novel Lord is forthcoming from Two Lines Press in February 2019. He lives in Champaign, where he is currently working on a novel and a collection of short stories.


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