Thursday, November 7, 2019

"Estranha forma de vida" - Strange Form of Life

A little follow up regarding my chapbook: Yesterday I received the exciting news from the publisher that Saudade, Thirty Poems of Longing, was the featured Book of the Day.

Saudade, Thirty Poems of Longing by Elizabeth Varadan

With my bio:
Elizabeth Varadan was born in Reno, Nevada, and was raised in California. She graduated from University of California, Berkeley with a major in history and a minor in English. A former elementary teacher, she and her husband live in Sacramento, California, but travel to Spain and Portugal. Her children’s books include Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls (2015), Dragonella, (English Edition, 2016; Spanish Edition, 2017), and Carnival of the Animals (2018). Her stories, flash fiction, and poetry for adults have appeared innumerous online and print magazines.
and blurbs:
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR Saudade, Thirty Poems of Longing by Elizabeth Varadan
Elizabeth Varadan‘s first book of poetry, Saudade, Thirty Poems of Longing, is aptly named. The first saudade speaks eloquently of longing as “a yearning for what was, what could have been but was stillborn” and later in another poem she relates that in saudade there are no returns nor arrivals. In this book, Portugal, a country she loves becomes a place we know as she brings us poems of fado—like the blues. She speaks eloquently of our troubled land and of loss echoing my sadness for America. The four saudades in this book frame a lovely unity. Phantoms of promise in the third bring us to a place of keeping the heart dormant so that in the fourth we learn to trust again. This first book is a beautiful read, not to be missed.
–Allegra Jostad Silberstein, Poet Laureate for the city of Davis 2010-2012
In Saudade, Thirty Poems of Longing, Elizabeth Varadan reckons with an untranslatable Portuguese word, the title of this exquisite chapbook, in order to evoke a universal emotion: longing for what was lost, missing, never fully known, never truly experienced. Music, poetry, and travel offer her poignant glimpses of this evanescent but irrepressible condition, which comes close to love but escapes, sometimes into the thin air of memory. Yet once saudade has been evoked, other emotions emerge in Varadan’s poems: nostalgia, terror, sorrow, dread, and hope all appear and fade into a muted acceptance of fate. What lingers is the haunting echo of the fado, the quintessentially Portuguese blues that Varadan too sings, quietly, and with perfect phrasing.
–Bradley W. Buchanan, Professor Emeritus, Department of English, California State University, Sacramento
In this short, cohesive collection, Elizabeth Varadan steeps us in saudade, that peculiarly Portuguese feeling of regretful longing, and we emerge, ironically and gratefully, more hopeful for the immersion.
–Naomi J. Williams, Author of Landfalls (Farrar, Straus & Giroux 2015)
RESERVE YOUR COPY TODAY, PREORDER SHIPS FEBRUARY 14, 2020…/saudade-thirty-poems-…/
#poetrylovers #now #reading #FLP #poetry

But today I want to share two poems from the collection. 
 One is a tribute to Amalia Rodrigues, known during her lifetime as "The Queen of Fado." I was moved to write this poem because, once I knew I wanted to write about Saudade, I recalled the newsreel I had seen of her funeral procession on YouTube. She was such a beloved icon in Portugal! When she died, the government declared three days of national mourning. If you watch HERE, wait until the procession leaves the church: As the crowd response is shown, this eerily beautiful song — one of her signature songs — plays.  You can get an idea of her fabulous, emotional voice. If you want to know the complete translation of the song, you can go HERE . And here is a public domain picture of her when she was mid-career: 

And now, here is my poem for Amalia:


“Estranha forma de vida . . ..”
(“Strange form of life . . ..”)
Her voice conveyed 
the sad arias and 
bright moments from the
opera that was 
her life. 

Vibrato of pain,
soaring cry of despair,
rise and fall of story,
sweetness, humor—
and always the

“Strange form of life . . ..”
In an old, flickering 
newsreel they carried the
casket out, while musicians 
wept, crowds wept,
I wept.

The second poem reflects my hopes for our country despite the troubled times we are going through. I think it is pretty self-explanatory:


Night falls, drawing a curtain 
across another day of longing 
for a kinder vision. 
The moon travels its lonely 
path, lost among stars. 
The stars keep their distance 
in the dark, silent night.   
Constellations wheel round in 
the abyss of space. 
And I, at the window,
yearn for signs of promise in 
the new break of day.  

Most of the poetry  in my chapbook is on the philosophical side. If you are a poetry lover, what kind of poetry do you like?


Elephant's Child said...

Book of the Day? Congratulations.
I like poetry (and writing more generally) which makes me think and/or feel.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, EC, thanks for stopping by. I think that is the power of poetry - it's an avenue to express thoughts and feelings in a very special way that makes emotional contact with a reader.

Mirka Breen said...

Congratulations on publishing a book of poetry. Be proud to be one of a rare breed who takes joy in word distillations.

Sandra Cox said...

The poetry is lovely.
Congrats on book of the day. Excellent!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Congrats on your book and being featured as a book of the day.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

I love that phrase, Mirka - "who takes joy in word distillations." That's lovely. Thanks for stopping by.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Sandra, I'm glad you like the poetry samples. Thanks for the support.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Natalie, thanks for the good wishes. It really was a wonderful feeling to see that!

Rosi said...

Congratulations on all your good news.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Thanks, Rosi. And thanks for stopping by.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

Congratulations, Elizabeth. It was nice to learn a bit about you, too. You have a remarkable resume, and it seems to get larger with each passing year.

I've never been much of one to read poetry, but both of these are wonderful. I especially like the second one with hope for a better tomorrow. Again, congratulations.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Thanks so much, Elizabeth (and Blelubeard, too!). I'm glad you liked the two poetry samples. I hope you had a chance to listen to the song in the video. Amalia's voice is truly lovely.

Kate Larkindale said...

Congratulations! That is exciting news.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Thanks, Kate. I really am excited! Thanks for stopping by.

Kenda Turner said...

Congratulations on your book being featured as Book of the Day. It must have been fun to hear that!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Kenda, it really was! And all because I decided to take the plunge when you announced the April "30 poems in 30 days" challenge! Thank you for the nudge!