The Cleave Poetry Webzine [ISSN: 1758-9223]

Ricardo Reis by Dennis Kelly

In submission on January 19, 2009 at 8:02 am

Ricardo Reis
“No one by choice
or inclination would
remain in this port.”
—Jose Saramago,
The Year of the Death
Of Ricardo Reis

here the sea ends—the coast begins
it is raining—over the colorless sea
the waters of the river—polluted with mud
the riverbeds—flooded
a dark vessel—ascends the somber river
to anchor—in lisbon
back & forth—the same ports
london—buenos aires
la plata—montevideo
santos—rio de janeiro
pernambuco—las palmas
one does not speak—or ask
which is—the greater river
which is—the greater town
a curtain of water—descends from sky
we come to know—what we don’t know
which is what—we know already
there is nothing—but names
beyond the reach—of writing

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  1. We’ve been reading and discussing Jose Saramago’s The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis over in the Latin American Lit forum of X-scape from Elba: Exiles of the New York Times:,36.msg137449.html#msg137449

    The “magic realism” of Latin American poets like Borges, Puig, Arenas is something I’ve always enjoyed—but not until reading Portugeuse poet/writers Fernando Pessoa and Jose Saramago did I realize just how much Latin ”Fabulation” and your “Cleavage” poetics were related.

    For example, in the above post I briefly outline Pessoa’s poetry and heteronymic polyvocal poetics. And then I translate-appropriate-subvert-cleave Pessoa’s lengthy English-written Hadrian eulogy “Antinous” into a more mainstream glbt rendition similar to Diana’s “lyric recovery” poetics & confessional poetry discussions over in jennifer’s blog:

    So that cleaving Pessoa and Saramango—as well as the other poets in The Cleave, The Snarke, The Snark, Books R Us and the Silliman blog—opens up the Cleave form to other schools of poetry: multicultural, LanPo, postsurrealism, lyric recovery and other forms of post avant poetics

    Each time I cleave another poet—something inside me gets cleaved. It’s like a diamond under pressure—flaking and smoldering new heteronymic voices and personalities.

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