In My Voice
portrait of Corsino Fortes

Corsino Fortes

Corsino Fortes's first book Pão & Fonema [Bread & Phoneme] which appeared in 1974 made an immediate impact. 1974 was a momentous year for Portugal and its African colonies as it was the year in which Portugal's dictator Salazar was overthrown, an act which began the process that led to the decolonisation of the Cape Verde Islands in 1975.

Pão & Fonema is a compressed, intensely lyrical book, and yet it has an epic arc which maps out a very Cape Verdean odyssey. The first canto focuses on the islands' typical hardships, such as droughts, and the second on the Cape Verdean experience of emigration. The poem sequence 'Postcards from the High Seas' is from the second canto. The third canto looks forward to an independent Cape Verde where islanders can settle and build the country.

Fortes was born in 1933 in Mindelo on Cape Verde's São Vicente island. He has worked as a teacher and a lawyer; he served as Cape Verde's ambassador to Portugal; and he was a judge in Angola.

After Pão & Fonema he published Arvore e Tambor [Tree and Drum] (Publicações Dom Quixote Lisbon) in 1986. He finished what he had long seen as a trilogy in 2001 with Pedras de Sol & Substância which was collected with the previous two books under the title A Cabeça Calva de Deus [The Bald Head of God] (Publicações Dom Quixote Lisbon).

Poems by Corsino Fortes


  • Corsino Fortes and Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi at The Whitechapel Gallery
  • Eduarda Mota is a vital part of the very strong Portuguese department at King's College London. She and Corsino were delighted to meet each other. On 15th October, Eduarda organised a reading, 'Echoing Seeds' at King's for Corsino which was a huge success.
  • Corsino Fortes and Sean O'Brien at the Whitechapel Gallery
  • Corsino Fortes chats to the translator Tom Boll at our gala event at the British Library.
  • Corsino Fortes at the WPT launch party at October Gallery.
  • Corsino Fortes and tour interpreter Yasmina Raggad on a train to Oxford for his reading at The Camoes Institute.
  • Portrait photograph of Corsino Fortes.
  • Corsino Fortes reads his poem 'Emigrant' at the House of Lords reception.
  • Corsino Fortes with his translators, Daniel Hahn and Sean O'Brien, backstage at the British Library.
  • Corsino Fortes lingers in the auditorium during the interval of the Gala Readings at the British Library.
  • Our reception at the House of Lords was held in the Atlee Room. Here, four international poets - Farzaneh Khojandi, Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi, Maxamed Xaashi Dhamac 'Gaarriye' and Corsino Fortes - pose beneath a portrait of Clement Atlee, the man who brought you the National Health Service.
  • Sarah and Corsino at the House of Lords