Education by Stone


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About the Author

Jo o Cabral de Melo Neto (1920-1999) was born and raised in northeastern Brazil, whose arid landscape and severe poverty became the setting and subject matter for some of his greatest poems. A career diplomat, he lived for many years in Spain, the other geographical pole around which his poetry flourished. Numerous national and international prizes were awarded to Jo o Cabral, one of the most original poets of the 20th century.

Richard Zenith's translations from the Portuguese include works by Ant nio Lobo Antunes and Fernando Pessoa. His Fernando Pessoa & Co.- Selected Poems won the 1999 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, and his new version of Pessoa's The Books of Disquiet (Penguin) was awarded the 2002 Calouste Gulbenkian Translation Prize. Zenith is the author of Terceiras Pessoas and has published his poetry in literary reviews. He lives in Lisbon.


The compressed wry clarities of this great poet find an active voice in these exceptionally perceptive translations. It matters that one understand "the original" beyond the seeming simplicity of its words. Richard Zenith does, altogether. —Robert Creeley

This superb selection of João Cabral de Melo Neto’s poems is indeed, in the words of the title, an "Education by Stone." Like Francis Ponge and William Carlos Williams, Cabral is a poet of thingness; he observes the seemingly trivial and intransigent, transforming "stone" into something rich, strange—and often very sexy. Richard Zenith’s excellent translation captures Cabral’s unique—and surprising—poetic landscape in all its nuances and thus provides new access to a major Brazilian poet. —Marjorie Perloff

João Cabral de Melo Neto is one of Brazil’s most acclaimed poets . . . From his early days, Mr. Cabral has written poems that are marked by a captivating use of simple language. Avoiding ceremony and circumstance, they follow centuries-old paths rather than struggle to break new ground. —NY Times Book Review

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