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Part of: World Poets’ Tour 2008 Echoing Seeds: An Encounter with Corsino Fortes at King’s College, London

Paula and Lucas Theatre
London

King's College London has a strong Portuguese department, headed by Patrick Chabal and Eduarda Mota, both of whom knew Corsino Fortes' work very well. Boasting one of the few departments in the UK devoted exclusively to the study of the Portuguese-speaking world, in Professor Patrick Chabal it also has a leading Lusophone Africanist who teaches Corsino Fortes' poetry.

The event was organised by Eduarda Mota and attracted an audience of 50 students and staff. After an introduction from Professor Chabal, students from the Portuguese department read translations and presented a slide show on the background and themes of Corsino Fortes' work. When he stepped up to read, Corsino was clearly moved by the enthusiasm of his audience. The ensuing discussion concentrated on the role of Creole in his work, and in particular the lines in ‘Letter from Bia d'Ideal' where Corsino chides his fellow poet and childhood friend, João Varela, for deserting his native language: ‘You've become a black black Greco-Latin man.' Corsino revealed that although he received a slap for this comment from Varela, it was more of a playful taunt than a literary manifesto. His own debts to a wider European tradition emerged in his tributes to Saint-John Perse and Ezra Pound.

The discussion continued at a reception organised by the department. This more informal gathering helped to reinforce the relationship that Corsino has established with an influential section of his UK readership. This event was highly successful, with a large audience and Corsino was clearly delighted by the fact that so many of the students knew his work and asked penetrating questions about his poems.