Southern Barbarians

John Mateer

$24.00

 

The Portuguese traders who brought Europe to Japan in the sixteenth century were known as ‘southern barbarians’. In his new collection John Mateer offers a contemporary re-charting of the Portuguese Empire, the hemisphere of influence which ties Portugal to Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Australia, Timor, Malacca, Macau and Japan.

This empire is a fugitive one, notable for its saudade, its awareness of loss, its yearning for a world that appears only intermittently in this one, as an echo, a trace, a memory. At its heart is the figure of the poet, as migrant, tourist, desterrado. His identity is inhabited by other identities, just as the place he is in reminds him of other places.

He is Camões, author of Os Lusíadas, he is Pessoa of the multiple heteronyms. Haunted by doubles and reflections, accompanied by ‘spirit guides’ who pass between this world and the other, he is both ghostly andconnected wherever he goes, connected in his ghostliness.

‘He is a barbarian, in the best sense of the word. Etymologically, one whose language denotes a different mode of speech, an interpreter, translator, foreigner…when he speaks, it is in gentle acknowledgement of solitude and of the strange.’ – Brian Castro, Introduction

'What can be stressed here, despite the particular choice of poems or the way in which said poems bring us memories and uncommon images, is an “I” rightfully translated into the language, itself nomadic, of Camões, Pessanha or Gil de Carvalho (a poet with whom, surprisingly, Mateer shares some affinities.)'Manuel de Freitas, Expresso (Portugal)

 

Print ISBN : 978-1-920882-58-7
pp : 96
Published : June 2011
Category:

About the Author

John Mateer is a poet, writer and curator. His works – published in Australia, South Africa, Indonesia, Japan, Macau and Portugal – includes essays, books of poems, and Semar's Cave, a prose travelogue on Indonesia. For two decades he has published criticism on contemporary art. His latest poetry collections are Southern Barbarians, which was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award, Emptiness: Asian Poems 1998–2012, and Unbelievers, or ‘The Moor’, which has recently appeared Portuguese and German-language editions. [Image by Daniel Terkl]