Paulo Teixeira
(Mozambique, 1962)   
Paulo Teixeira

Paulo Teixeira was born in what is now called Maputo, Mozambique. He is seen as the most important member of the generation of Portuguese poets who made their début in the 1980s. Portuguese poetry has been melancholy at all times, and more so in times of crisis.

Writing in the 16th century, when Portugal's colonial empire was near dissolution, Camões saw little hope for the future of civilization. The young poets of the 1980s display a similar pessimism in the face of a Europe on the verge of collapse. In often elegiac forms their poetry revives pre-war fears of an imminent 'Decline of the West'. Paulo Teixeira ranks first among these poets of European decline, the reviewers of a civilization which in its long history has brought only war and destruction.

For Teixeira an almost obsessive awareness of the passage of time heightens his sense of desolation when looking at the present. His apocalyptic vision finds expression in poems like 'De temporum fine comoedia (I)' and 'Waiting (2)', in which he demonstrates how television trivializes evil into an everyday banality. In 'The Head of State' the protagonist sees his country ravaged, depopulated and laid waste, as a 'Troy without epic'. In 'Waiting (3)' the elegiac tone with its frequent use of the subjunctive brings echoes of the odes of Fernando Pessoa's heteronym Ricardo Reis. Compare, for instance, Teixeira's 'Now let us stay in bed, the here and now will / soon be part of the beginning' with Reis': 'Let us free our hands, why should we tire ourselves', or 'Let us remind ourselves . that life / goes by and . never comes again.'

In Waiting (1997) as in most of his work, Paolo Teixeira presages with poignant accuracy the present state of Europe.

© August Willemsen (Translated by Ko Kooman)

[Paulo Teixeira took part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 1999. This text was written on that occasion.]

Also on PIW on Teixeira
Gravitas Poetica in the Work of Paulo Teixeira

Paulo Teixeira on Lyrikline


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