Laureate - 2004
Vasco Graça Moura
Born near Oporto but now based in Lisbon, Vasco Graça Moura is Portugal’s most renowned translator of poetry, the winner of major prizes for his renditions of Dante’s Divina Commedia (1995) and the complete sonnets of Shakespeare (2002), and acclaimed as well for his translations of Petrarch, Gottfried Benn, Rilke, Seamus Heaney, and others. Some poems meditate on art and music, others take up historical and literary figures, and even the intensely personal poems connect with large, humanistic concerns. The poetic tradition, more than a thematic subject, is reflected in the poetry’s very manufacture, the poet having revitalized Renaissance metrical & rhyme schemes imported into Portuguese poetry from Italy. Driven by the poetical principle that everything can be transformed into literature, his poems are an attempt of a poetic transfiguration of the banal. The poetry through intertextuality and cultivated perception strives towards literary conversion of reality. His recognizable “casual” style would grow into a specific “narrative poetry”, which very often represents its own outpour of the lyrical, the aesthetic colloquialialism, through which that prosaic style contains all the styles, it even recycles and incorporates the technical dictionary of the West. The verse becomes an expression of experience, of memory, of the transient practice through a personal, biographic emphasis. Some of the poems are meditative emphases of art and music, others are inspired by historical and literary persons, and are even intensely personal poems connected to great, humanistic problems. As a poet, he gained recognition with the book Modus which changes (1963), followed by, among others, English week (1965), December and other poems (1976), Recitatives (1977) Instruments of Melancholy (1980), A concert in a field (1993), Family sonnets (1995), Poems with persons (1997), Testament of VGM (2001). As a novelist he has published: Four last poems (1987), The shipwreck of Sepulveda (1988), Sophonisba leaving at six and twelve in the morning (1993) The death of Nobody (1998) My love, it was night (2001). As an essayist, he has published the books: Luis de Camoes: several challenges (1980), Several voices (1987), Portraits if Isabel and other attempts (1994).