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Art Coelho (sometimes spelled Cuelho) was born in Fresno, California in the central San Joaquin Valley, and lives in Montana since 1966. The grandson of Azorean immigrants, Art is an American poet, short-story writer, novelist, and painter, who has written extensively and whose works appear as independent volumes, as well as in academic journals and anthologies. Recent publications, among others, include The Scents Only the Heart Can Follow, University of Nebraska Press, Prairie Schooner, Volume 83, Number 1, Spring 2009, or "Hand-Me-Down Refugee" InterDISCIPLINARY Journal of Portugues Diaspor Studies (2013).
I would like to quote from a mail message that Art has written recently, since his own words better describe his relationship to his culture and his work; how the memories of the past and the complexities of the diaspora struggle to be part of a dialogue that may, or may not, find a way to resolve any uncomfortable residue.:
"What I am experiencing now is the Greenhorn in Reverse [...] By my eight visits to the Azores my experiences have proved this out. I'd already seen it in my own grandparents' generation too. When I was about 17 years old my maternal grandparents came to our house and my Mom and I were helping them with their banking because they couldn't read some document. My grandparents could only speak broken English. They'd talk to me in English, then forget and start talking in Portuguese; and I'd have to stop them and remind them that I didn't speak Portuguese. They couldn't write or read in English either. I had to teach myself how to speak, write, and read in Portuguese. And this allowed me to eventually read my people's history too. I've even tried to teach myself how to translate my own poetry, which is nearly impossible at this point of my language skills because I don't think like a rural Azorean. I am aware that if you are a rural farmer, a rural fisherman, etc.-it all deals with various ways or words that are specialized. And I've come full circle in my poetry writing because as in the poem The Lady of the Bulls, it is written not from an American's point of view, but simply how our culture is not being preserved."
In reference to the Azorean culture, Art writes: "I have a very good way of recapturing this. Like this summer in the Azores where I and my son Ira, and with my niece Lisa harvested grapes at Campo Raso, Pico Island with our Coelho cousins. We did the whole working process: cutting the red grapes, hauling the grapes to the adega, making grapes into wine; plus going to the co-op in Madalena where their extra grapes were sold. We not only celebrated the harvest in the shade of our cousins' adegas, but also stopped off at the bar after our co-op run. And going through the ancient fields and stopping off where others were processing their grapes in mini-ancient ways which haven't changed was a rewarding experience. Visiting closed alambiques that are now a dead or dying tradition because the men who owned them have died, and there simply is no one to replace them or the knowledge they had for all traditional licors. So when a friend in Horta tells me "the rural life is dying out," I don't believe it. My cousins still raise pigs; I attended Matança de porco; Holy Ghost Festa (Azorean style), and none of this is watered down by our typical values that changed after our immigration. So in other words, I have gained back a lot of the original feeling from ancient times, and how that doesn't change; and in small and major ways how it can change too, but there still is enough Azorean soul that is recognizable. It is these traditions that hang on that give us the kinds of intimate contact that keeps alive not only who we once were, but who we will become again by perseverance. I think the best way I can describe this kind of intimacy is in the first stanza of my poem, My Grandfather's Island.
It comes slow
as a foreign language
for island truth;
smiles setting the pace
of a village by foot-
by poverty's intimacy.
[...] being Azorean-American has many facets, especially when you fight tooth-and-nail to regain your lost culture. And that is why [...] the novel I am writing, The Americanization of Antônio, is important to Azorean culture [...] and this work will be covering something that is new to Azorean-American literature."
Note 1: Like A Good Unknown Poet received the Pushcart Prize in 1976.
Note 2: The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, edited by Bill Henderson with Pushcart Prize founding editors, First Edition, 1976-77.
Este blogue é sobre a perspectiva da distância, o olhar de quem vive os Açores radicado na América do Norte, na Europa, no Brasil, ou em qualquer outra região. É escrito por personalidades de referência das nossas comunidades com ligações intensas ao arquipélago dos Açores (25.02.2007).
Irene Maria F. Blayer - Nasceu em São Jorge, Azores, e vive no Canadá.
She holds a Ph.D. in Romance Linguistics and is a Full Professor at Brock University, Canada -Doutorada em linguística, é Professora Catedrática na Univ. Brock. Neste espaço procura-se a colaboração de colegas e amigos cujos textos, depoimentos, e outros -em Inglês, Português, Francês, ou Castelhano- sejam vozes que testemunhem a nossa 'narrativa' diaspórica, ou se remetam a uma pluralidade de encontros onde se enquadra um universo que contempla uma íntima proximidade e cumplicidade com o nosso imaginário cultural e identitário.
Lélia Pereira da Silva Nunes - Brasil
Nasceu em Tubarão, vive em Florianópolis, Ilha de Santa Catarina. Socióloga, Professora da Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, aposentada, investigadora do Patrimônio Cultural Imaterial (experts/UNESCO,Mercosul), escritora e, sobretudo, uma apaixonada pelos Açores. Este é um espaço, sem limites nem fronteiras, aberto ao diálogo plural sobre as nossas comunidades. Um espaço que, aproximando geografias, reflete mundivivências a partir do "olhar distante e olhar de casa," alicerçado no vínculo afetivo e intelectual com os Açores. Vozes açorianas, onde quer que vivam, espalhadas pelo mundo e, aqui reunidas num grande abraço fraterno, se fazem ouvir. Azorean descent.-- Born in Tubarão(SC) and lives in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina Island,Brasil. She holds postgraduate degreees in Public Administration, and is an Associate Professor at Federal University of Santa Catarina.
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