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When the Heart Keeps on Beating: Hybridity and Otherness in paulA neves’ Poetry

Reinaldo Silva


This essay aims at analyzing paulA neves’ recent collection of poetry, capricornucopia (the dream of goats), published in 2018. Compared to contemporary representative American voices originally from older Portuguese settlements in the United States (New England, California, and Hawaii), this new voice from the Ironbound section of Newark, New Jersey heralds a promising first generation of Portuguese American writers whose parents first set foot there in the late 1960s and afterwards. While tapping from her own upbringing in this industrial setting, neves discusses her unique Portuguese American ethnic background from a gendered and lesbian points of view. In this collection of twenty-four poems, most pieces deal with issues involving loss, bereavement, ethnicity, ethnic food, family, culture, and life in the Ironbound. These, however, are conflated with a smaller, central cluster of four focusing on relationships, love, queer and otherwise, heartbreak and friendships, and how to move on with her life as an orphan while witnessing a loss of vigor in her ethnic ties. This collection will be discussed within the framework of pieces of writing that are quintessentially intercultural, marked by hybridity, replete with Portuguese “ethnic signs,” and shaped by gender and LGBTQ discourse.


paula neves’s poetry; Portuguese American poetry; Lesbianism and Portuguese American Poetry; Ethnicity in Portuguese American Literature; Portuguese American Women’s Studies

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