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Rui Pires Cabral

Rui Pires Cabral

Rui Pires Cabral

(Portugal, 1967)
Rui Pires Cabral was born in a small city in northeastern Portugal. He lives in Lisbon, where he works as a translator. He graduated from University with a degree in History, specializing in archeology. His biographical journey, of which the poems offer us glimpses, is similar to that of many other young people of his generation who left the countryside to study in Oporto or Lisbon, living in rented rooms, hanging out in bars and discotheques, going to concerts, smoking joints, falling in love, making friends, reading books, and traveling around Europe. This was a generation which entered university during the second half of the eighties, when the euphoria of those years following the 1974 revolution had long since dissipated and Portugal, in spite of its lower standard of living and the scarcity of cultural life, was beginning, for the better or worse, to seem a bit more like the other European countries.
When Rui Pires Cabral published Música Antológica & Onze Cidades in 1997, the book quickly became a small cult object for many younger readers, and it would open the way for certain poets who would make their debut a bit later and whose works shared some of the characteristics of Cabral’s poetry: namely the ability to make poems out of the small circumstances of daily life, ostensible subjectivity, urban experience as a principal topic, the use of a register that was more typical of prose – and adequate to an equally prosaic world – but very much in the service of lyrical intensity, the influence of American and English poetry and of some of the new lyric poetry out of Spain, the presence of ‘Pop’ music, a resistance to metaphor, and investment in a kind of poetry that, without abdicating a sophisticated and highly controlled prosody, wanted to be understandable to the common reader.

Rui Pires Cabral’s real subject is himself: his feelings, his reflections, his personal life and the memory of his early adulthood years. And because people are not linear, the pathos in these poems is variable. What dominates above all is the feeling of loss and the notion that the fleeting intensity of certain privileged moments is poisoned by the inexorability and absurdity of an ending towards which everything moves. But there are poems in which the gloom lifts and the poet almost believes that numbing reality still holds out some promises.

Many of his texts evoke foreign cities, usually focusing on small details, though they are not actually poems ‘about’ cities. They are poems about the effects, on the author, of being and of having been in them. The end of ‘Restaurante Polaco’, translated here, offers us a good entry into the world of Rui Pires Cabral: “... In foreign cities/ we make better use of our senses, we are bolder/ in our intuitions. And after the soup and the warm/ tea, going out into the street, we can discover/ that we are still alive and that, after all,/ we have never known any other condition./ This is the hour that reveals us. / And what we call reality/ heads off with us in the same direction.”
© Miguel Queirós (Translated by Martin Earl)

Poetry in Portuguese
Geografia das Estações, author’s edition, Vila Real, 1994
A Super-Realidade, author’s edition, Vila Real, 1995
Música Antológica & Onze Cidades, Presença, Lisbon, 1997
Praças e Quintais, Averno, Lisbon, 2003
Longe da Aldeia, Averno, Lisbon, 2005
Capitais da Solidão, The Vila Real Theatre, Vila Real, 2006

In Spanish
El Arte de la Pobreza. Diez Poetas Portugueses Contemporâneos, Diputación Provincial Málaga, 2007


In Portuguese


Article on the author’s poetry

Article on the author’s poetry

Biographical information, critical reading of one of the poems

Biographical information, critical reading of one of the poems
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Prins Bernhard cultuurfonds
Lira fonds
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère