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Distance and Alterity in Manual para Amantes Desesperados

Robert Simon


Abstract. Post-independence Angolan poetry has continued in many ways the socially oriented thematic of pre-1975 works from authors such as Agostinho Neto, Alda Lara, and António Jacinto. The tendency is to see either an “epic,” or sociopolitical framework, or a “constructive,” or socially oriented framework within an intimate poetic matrix (Mata 96). As such, a truly intimate poetic which also conveys a social orientation (but without the social epistemology of the former) seems in need of further study.  

Ana Paula Tavares is one of the most recognized and celebrated female poets of the post-independence period in Angola. Currently living in Lisbon, she has produced much of her poetry in the past several years as a resident of Portugal. Her poetic voice builds upon a focal point of a feminine dialogic contextualized through the reinsertion of Angolan oral tradition, anti-hegemonic discourse, the mystical, and the authority of social and intimate memory. In one of her more recent works, Manual para Amantes Desesperados (2007), the female poetic voice finds an attempt to consolidate the notion of self based on the connections between the intimacy of physical love and the transcendence of fluid spatial and temporal relationships which the geographical separation from one’s home implies. The poetic voice in the work utilizes a variety of natural images related to the southern region of Angola (such as the desert, and various plant and animal species) intertwined with descriptions of the experience of ephemeral love to enhance the links between the internal process of discovery and the external social spaces which activate memory, set as a whole upon a timeless narrative imaginary. This approximation to the mystical while simultaneously maintaining a distance from the essentialism common in a mystical discourse provides the reader with a nuanced re-evaluation of the post-colonial Angolan poetic voice, and particularly, that of the poet from afar. 


Ana Paula Ribeiro Tavares, Poetry, Angola, Mysticism, Postmodernism

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