Yara Nakahanda Monteiro

Yara Nakahanda Monteiro’s poetry collection Memórias, Aparições e Arritmias won the Prémio Literário Glória de Sant’Anna 2022 on May 12, 2022.

Prémio Literário Glória de Sant’Anna is an International Poetry Prize in memory of the Poet Glória de Sant’Anna. Organized by the Cultural Action Group of Válega and Glória de Sant’Anna’s sons, it is awarded to the author of the best poetry book in Portuguese published in a calendar year since 2012. Some of the previous winners have been Ana Paula Jardim, Sofia Ferrés, Sara F. Costa, and Eduardo White.

The jury this year comprised Ana Paula Tavares from Angola, Andrea Paes and Jacinto Guimarães from Portugal, Jane Tutikian from Brazil, and Independent Literary Critic Xosé Manuel Eyré Val. They announced the shortlist on April 21 with some of the best writing in Poetry in Portuguese recognised.

The winner of the award was revealed to be Memórias, Aparições e Arritmias (English: Memories, Apparitions, and Arrhythmias) the debut collection by Yara Nakahanda Monteiro published by Companhia das Letras in 2021. The book has the following blurb (translated from Portuguese using Google translate):

           

«Great-granddaughter of slavery, great-granddaughter of miscegenation, granddaughter of independence and daughter of the diaspora», Yara Nakahanda Monteiro (Huambo, 1979) debuts in poetry with an intimate register, groping in words the essence of the female condition, nature, identity and belonging, memories and dreams.

I braid my hair they say I want to look blacker
I do a blow-dry they say I want to look whiter
In the warm front coming from the southern hemisphere the snails dry up disorderly ask where do I want to look?
“I am from where I am.”

Her poems transport us to other times and spaces: childhood and adolescence on the outskirts of Lisbon; the stories of life in Angola, told by the grandmother. In them, uneasiness scribbled in notebooks sprout, imagined trails are sketched from the great questions that define who we are. Halfway through, everyday life flows and an engaging, enchanting literary voice emerges, impossible to ignore. Any resonance with reality is poetry.

Jurors Jurado Xosé Manuel Eyré Val said in their citation: “I consider that the guiding theme of the collection is the futility, fragility and evanescence of the perception of life, born of the tension that is established between a very strong introspection (looked into the self propio) and another also moi forte extropección (looked at the outside world). This tension is resolved in the domain of the word, space and rhythm, technically speaking,”

Responding to the win Monteiro said, “I am deeply touched by the recognition of the jury. It is a great joy for me to share this award with my readers, my editor @claracapitao, friends and family.”

She receives an original engraving of a portrait of Glória de Sant’Anna by Rui Paes and a cash prize of 3,000.00 Euros at a ceremony on May 28.

This report was done using Google translate from Portuguese to English.