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  • Foto do escritorDirce Waltrick Do Amarante

I Hear a Wave Crashing on the Land, by Tarso do Amaral de Souza Cruz

I Hear a Wave Crashing on the Land, by

Tarso do Amaral de Souza Cruz*

“A Wave” is a translation into English of a poem – “Uma onda” – originally written in Portuguese and published in 2010 as part of my second collection of poems – Ares de Guerrilha. It’s about my impressions of a given favela located in the city where I have always lived, Rio de Janeiro. Whenever I find myself before this particular favela, I have the impression of being in front of a huge wave. Its topography, as well as its seemingly infinite number of houses, windows, and rooftops are flabbergasting. It amazes me every single time.

There’s no denying that, as much as any other favela in Rio, this one would greatly benefit from improvements in its general infrastructure and living conditions. Thus, I’ve always wondered what would happen if all of its dozens of thousands of inhabitants, just for once, decided to take the streets and demand better living conditions. What would happen if every citizen who lives in a favela did the same? What if such a wave crashed? Surely nothing short of a massive roar would be heard and echo through Rio, Brazil, and the world.

As I was writing the poem, I thought about the best way to try and represent the impact such a movement would have. How to describe it? What could convey such a revolutionary crash? Joyce’s hundredletter thunderwords and the endless “commodious vicus of recirculation” they epitomize came and come to mind. I feel that, the crash of such a wave, just like the cosmic and seminal fall that Joyce portrays as a basilar feature of the human condition in Finnegans Wake, more than bringing forth any conceivable image of an end, would, in fact, represent renovation, a new beginning.


Part of Tropicália, the influential 60s installation by Hélio Oiticica. Photograph: Joe Humphrys.

A Wave

statically thick and colourful. a huge wave made of bricks, streets, lightbulbs, alleys, and shifting black blood. poor. sons and daughters of exploitation. slaves of the yet. nothing is happy. no. too much work. it dirties. it stains. Castro Alves’s blot, toothless, grins. tears outflow. fear of living-dying. alone. and watch whities’ and squares’ shinning bulletproof airconditioners go by. fright. ignore to be ignored. come and go. I see. eyes.




*Tarso do Amaral de Souza Cruz holds a Ph.D. in Languages and a Master’s degree in Literatures in English. He teaches Literatures in English at Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro and at Fundação Técnico-Educacional Souza Marques. His main areas of research are Joycean Studies and Post-Colonial Studies. He is a member of the research group Joyce Studies in Brazil. He is the author of two books of poems – Vela ao Sol and Ares de Guerrilha.

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