Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kenia's Wednesday Challenge

When Shawnacy interviewed me for the Real Toads and asked where I found inspiration for writing, I remember quoting darling poet Manoel de Barros:

All the things whose value can be
disputed over a long-distance spitting challenge
are good subject for poetry.

A man who only owns a comb
and a tree
is good subject for poetry.

And I thought it was about time to introduce  you to another remarkable Brazilian man of letters!

Manoel de Barros is a 94-year-old contemporary Brazilian poet (yes, he lives!). People often refer to him as ‘the poet of small things’, though he is the owner of a big work and amazing smile. He was born in 1916 in the wetlands region of the country (Pantanal). He received Brazil’s highest literary awards and his life and work were the subject of Joel Pizzini’s 1989 short film O Caramujo Flor (Snail Flower).

But what I really wanted to show you is the magnificence of his poetry. His surrealist worlds invite people to reinvent themselves and their relationships with all living creatures and inanimate objects.

Man's biggest wealth
is his incompleteness.
With this I am wealthy.
Words that accept me the way
I am—I don't accept.
I can't stand being just
a guy who opens
doors, who pulls valves,
who watches the watch, who
buys bread at 6 in the afternoon,
who goes out there,
who sharpens the pencil,
who sees the grape, etc., etc.
Forgive me.
But I need to be Others
I intend to revitalize man
by using butterflies.

Portrait of the artist as a thing: butterflies
They exchange trees for me.
Insects develop me.
I can already love flies the same way I love myself.
Silences practice me.
Mid afternoon a gift of old cans gets stuck in my eye
But I’m predominantly  lilies.
Plants want my mouth to grow over.
I’m free for the birds satisfaction.
I’m kind toward the vultures.
Frogs want to be like me.
I want to christen the waters.
I can already see the smell of the sun.

My world is small, Lord.
There is a river and a few trees.
The back of our house faces the water.
Ants trim the edge of Grandmother’s rose beds.
In the backyard, there is a boy
and his wondrous tin cans.
His eye exaggerates the blue.
Everything from this place has a pact
            with birds.
Here if the horizon reddens a little,
            the beetles think it’s a fire.
Where the river starts a fish,
                        river me a thing
River me a frog
River me a tree.
In the evenings, an old man plays his flute
to invert the sunsets.

Manoel de Barros's poetry in English can be found on 


Most of Manoel de Barros's work reflects his indeliable bond with nature around him. Fauna and Flora are recurrent themes in his poetry, plants and trees gain feelings, responsibilities and a voice in his poems, animals lives are entangled to men's all through his writings as if they were one. Today's challenge asks of you to write about this connection of men and nature, about how you connect with the pulsing life around you. Even if you live in a concrete jungle, you're still invited to write. When you're finished, please link your poem below and don't forget to link back to the Real Toads. Happy writing!

Nature will bear the closest inspection.  She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.  ~ Henry David Thoreau


Anonymous said...

i hope you don't mind a poem which i was re-posting today anyway as part of a mini-series celebrating spring ~ it suits the prompt perfectly and is one my favorite poems. {not necessarily best, but i like it.} {smile}

i'll come back in a day or two to visit others. loved this post! thank you, Kenia.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Oh, Kenia, I love this man already! I love what he does with abstracts, like Silence.. giving them the ability to act: Silences practice me.. And his becoming one with nature is so inspiring. Thank you for this.. I'm going to get very close to that world to write a suitable poem.

Fireblossom said...

Oh Miss Myheartslovesongs....

I dedicated mine to you!

Laurie Kolp said...

Thank you for such a great prompt, Kenia, and for introducing me to this inspiring poet.

Daydreamertoo said...

What a wonderful poet and man, so in touch with the real world. Wonderful prompt too Kenia.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I love this prompt so much! I may come back and try to emulate this wonderful poet's style, later. But I wrote the first lines that came into my head this morning, and decided to follow them instead.

Kenia Santos said...

Reading poems from my cellphone! No connection at home until Friday! :(

I'm glad you guys enjoyed Manoel de Barros and I'm amazed with the great poetry you've come up with! I'll visit you soon. <3


Ella said...

Kenia this is a wonderful challenge!
I love his words~ I am chasing words and ideas now, I'm using a butterfly net ;D

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, I love him. These poems are as delicious as trees, butterflies, and silence.

Love this line so much:
"Silences practice me."


Unknown said...

Have had this photo in my queue for months, awaiting an appropriate voice. You helped me find it today. Thanks, Kenia!

Hannah said...

Such a JOY!! Meeting Manoel and feeling the essence of him through his words. So beautiful.

I had such a great time with this prompt, this style truly speaks to my heart.

Thank you, Kenia, for such an enjoyable challenge!


Intelliblog said...

I was not aware fo this fine poet, so thank you for the introduction to his work and life.

As Spring smiles on the Northern Hemisphere, here Downunder, Autumn frowns... I have Six Haiku for Autumn for you :-)

Susie Clevenger said...

I am late, but I wanted to write for this prompt. Thanks for your introduction Kenia to such a wonderful poet.

Kerry O'Connor said...

I'm back again. I could write like this for the next month and not tire of expressing myself in this style.

Anonymous said...

I can never tire of nature prompts or poems... and what an honour I would consider it if someday I too became known as a "poet of small things."

Scarlet said...

A lovely inspiration ..Thank you for the challenge ~

Mary B. Mansfield said...

Wow, nature poems are something I always seem to struggle with. I ended up in sort of a weird place with this poem, but I like it. Very nice challenge!