LACEY, Wash. – Salgado Maranhão remained illiterate until age 15, spending most of his youth working on his family’s isolated subsistence farm in rural, northeastern Brazil. Now, he is one of Brazil’s most celebrated poets and will be presenting a reading of his work at Saint Martin’s University.
Accompanied by Alexis Levitin, a translator of Portuguese poetry, award-winning poet Maranhão will read from two of his collections, “Blood of the Sun” and “Tiger Fur,” at the next Robert A. Harvie Social Justice Lecture. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place April 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the University’s Norman Worthington Conference Center.
The two men are coming to campus as part of a West Coast tour to promote Maranhão’s work that extends from San Diego, California, to Seattle, says Jamie Olson, Ph.D., associate professor of English, who has counted Levitin among his colleagues for a number of years.
“I have seen Salgado and Alexis read their poems and translations in person. To say the least, they are a dynamic pair,” Olson says. “Salgado’s poems bring together the earthy, the political and the metaphysical, and Alexis translates him beautifully.”
Maranhão explains in an autobiographical essay for Milkweed Editions that as he was growing up, he “had to work in the fields like everyone else to earn a living…This was hard, hard work and quite distant from poetry.”
“Poetry entered my life in an unexpected way,” he explains in the essay. “I lived in close proximity to poetry all my childhood because of the repentistas, the travelling singers and reciters of improvisatory poetry that were typical of the northeast of Brazil when I was growing up.” His constant contact with the repintistas, who Maranhão likens to “modern-day troubadours,” had a cumulative effect on him.
In addition to the English Department and the Harvie lecture series, sponsors of the reading by Maranhão and Levitin are the Office of the President, Office of the Provost, the College of Arts and Sciences, Sigma Tau Delta honor society and Saint Martin’s Abbey.
The Robert A. Harvie Social Justice Lecture Series was created by Saint Martin’s University Professor of Criminal Justice Robert Hauhart, Ph.D., J.D., to raise awareness of social justice issues within the community. The series honors the work of Robert A. Harvie, J.D., former professor and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at Saint Martin’s. For more information, contact Robert Hauhart at 360-438-4525 or [email protected].