My Year in Writing: 2022

November 28, 2022

SEA books published in 2022.

Now is the time, between my birthday and the end of the year, when I take stock of my year in writing. It’s been a pretty productive year, considering it also included a move from Brooklyn to the Berkshires:

Published Wine-Dark Sea: New & Selected Poems & Translations (Shanti Arts)

Book launch for Wine-Dark Sea online with Kathryn Miles (Feb)

Appearance on Portuguese American Radio Hour with Diniz Borges (March)

World Poetry Day/Cagarro Colloquium reading (March)

Book launch with Portuguese Beyond Borders Institute (March)

Book signing at Terrain.org booth at #AWP22 in Philadelphia (March)

Wine-Dark Sea gets “Taylored” by @taylorswift_as_books on Instagram! (March)

Lecture at University of the Azores: Mesa-redonda Poesia, Tradução e Memória (April)

Azores launch for Wine-dark Sea and Azorean Suite/Suite Açoriana at Letras Levadas in Ponta Delgada, São Miguel, Azores, with Leonor Sampaio Silva (April)

Açores Hoje television interview with Juliana Lopes on RTP Açores (April)

Terrain.org Reading Series with Joe Wilkins and Betsy Aoki (April)

“Phase Change” and “Under the Linden’s Spell” reprinted in TS Poetry’s Every Day Poems (online/email)

“Midnight Sun” and “Shapeshifting” reprinted in Earth Song: a nature poems experience (anthology), edited by Sara Barkat and published by TS Poetry Press

Named Ryan Observatory’s first Poet Laureate

Mentored 2 students in Creative Nonfiction for Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program (June/July) [UPDATE: one of the students I mentored got accepted into the University of Pennsylvania, early decision! So proud of her!]

Translated Pedro da Silveira’s A ilha e o mundo, his first book of poems (1952)

Excerpts from Corsair of the Islands, my translation of Vitorino Nemésio’s Corsário das Ilhas, published in Barzakh Magazine (online) (August)

Panelist/presenter at Colóquio: Pedro da Silveira – faces de um poliedo cultural, University of the Açores: On Translating Pedro da Silveira’s A Ilha (September)

Lançamento da obra Habitar: um ecopoema, Margarida Vale de Gato’s translation of Dwelling: an ecopoem, published by Poética Edições, with Nuno Júdice, Luís Filipe Sarmento, and Margarida Vale de Gato, at FLAD in Lisbon (September)

Guest lecturer in Creative Writing at University of the Azores (Leonor Sampaio Silva, professora)

Panelist/presenter at 36th Colóquio da Lusofonia, Centro Natália Correia, Fajã de Biaxo, São Miguel, Azores: reading from Azorean Suite/Suite Açoriana with Eduardo Bettencourt Pinto (October)

#YeahYouWrite Catskill Reading at Fahrenheit 451 House, Catskill, NY w/Stephanie Barber, Laurie Stone, and Sara Lippmann (October)

Guest Writer at UConn Stamford creative writing class (Mary Newell, professor) (October)

Poet & Astronomer in Conversation (with Derrick Pitts, Chief Astronomer of the Franklin Institute) at Ryan Observatory at Muddy Run, PA (November)

With Derrick Pitts at Ryan Observatory.

“Wine-Dark Sea” (poem) published in American Studies Over_Seas (November)

20th Anniversary of residency at Millay Arts and writing of Dwelling: an ecopoem (November) [UPDATE: Got asked to join the Board of Millay Arts in December.]

Selections from Habitar: um ecopoema published in Gávea-Brown (US) and Grotta (Azores)

Book reviews in Gávea-Brown and Pessoa Plural [Postponed until 2023.](December)

My essay, “Açorianidade and the Radiance of Sensibility,” accepted by Barzakh Magazine for publication in Winter 2023 issue. (December)

What a year! I am exceedingly grateful to everyone who has supported my writing over the past year. As Walter Lowenfels wrote, “One reader is a miracle; two, a mass movement.”

Like I said last year, I feel like I’ve been blessed by a mass miracle this year!

Tonight @ 7PM ET!

In person at Ryan Observatory at Muddy Run or live stream via https://www.ryanobservatory.com/

Join us for a lively dialogue between Chief Astronomer of the Franklin Institute, Dr. Derrick Pitts & Ryan Observatory Poet Laureate, Scott Edward Anderson.

Our conversation will center on the many ways art and science enhance and complement each other.

Telescope viewing & laser guided star tours, weather permitting. Rain or Shine event.

For more info, go to https://www.ryanobservatory.com/

Scott Edward Anderson, Suzanne Roberts, and Derek Sheffield at AWP 2022, Philadelphia.

Tonight, I’m reading from my new book, Wine-Dark Sea: New & Selected Poems & Translations in Terrain.org’s reading series. You can join us by registering here for the event. Hope to see you there!

I’ll be reading with two other poets, Joe Wilkins and Betsy Aoki. Betsy is an associate poetry editor with Terrain, which has published several of my poems over the years. Her colleague, Derek Sheffield, will be our host. Derek is a fine poet in his own right, and he has a new book out called Not For Luck, which poet Mark Doty selected for the Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize, and it was published by Michigan State University Press.

Derek has been called “a post-romantic nature poet,” in a recent review and, as the reviewer went on to say, his “poems are colored by a sense of separateness from nature and a recognition that language itself impedes any immediate communion with the world.” (Those of you familiar with my book Dwelling: an ecopoem, will understand why I find Derek’s work interesting and simpatico.)  

I should also mention that he wrote a great blurb for my new book, for which I am truly grateful. And he has some of the longest poem titles I’ve ever seen (the one below is not even close to the longest), which is always fun.

Here is Derek Sheffield’s

“At the Log Decomposition Site in the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, a Visitation”

Below thick moss and fungi and the green leaves

and white flowers of wood sorrel, where folds

of phloem hold termites and ants busily gnawing  

through rings of ancient light and rain, this rot

is more alive, says the science, than the tree that

for four centuries it was. Beneath beetle galleries

vermiculately leading like lines on a map

to who knows where, all kinds of mites, bacteria,

Protozoa, and nematodes whip, wriggle, and crawl

even as my old pal’s bark of a laugh comes back:

“He’s so morose you get depressed just hearing

his name,” he said once about a poet we both liked.

Perhaps it’s the rust-red hue of his cheeks

in the spill of woody bits. Or something in the long shags

of moss draping every down-curved limb. He’d love to be

right now a green-furred Sasquatch tiptoeing

among the boles of these firs alive since the first

Hamlet’s first soliloquy. He’d be in touch,

he said in an email, as soon as the doctors cleared him.

When this tree toppled, the science continues, its death

went through the soil’s mycorrhizae linking the living

and the dead by threads as fine as the hairs appearing

those last years along Peter’s ears, and those rootlets

kept rooting after. That email buried in my Inbox.

Two lines and his name in lit pixels on my screen.

What if I click Reply? That’s what he would do,

even out of place and time, here in the understory’s

lowering light where gnats rescribble their whirl

after each breath I send.

–Derek Sheffield, from Not For Luck, originally appeared in Otherwise Collective’s Plant-Human Quarterly

When Samantha and I were back in São Miguel two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to place a plaque at Emigrant Square in honor of my great-grandparents José and Anna Rodrigues Casquilho, who emigrated from the Azores in 1906. As the wind whipped up on the plaza, swirling around the large mosaic globe, and the ocean waves crashed against the rocky north shore, I had the distinct impression my bisavós were making their presence known.

The ceremony was emotional for me, especially because several members of my Azorean family attended. I delivered a speech in Portuguese—although much of it may have been lost on the wind—and placed the plaque in the square that had been reserved for it. I couldn’t help thinking of my bricklayer great-grandfather when I nestled the plaque into the fresh mortar.

(Coincidentally, outside Letras Lavadas Livraria the night before, where we were launching my books Azorean Suite and Wine-Dark Sea, stone workers were busy replacing the basalt and limestone calçadas and street paving stones right up until we started talking—another sign that my great-grandfather was present.)

This got me thinking about other emigrants from the islands and about Millicent Borges Accardi’s new book of poetry, Through a Grainy Landscape, which, as another Azorean American writer, Katherine Vaz, puts it, explores “what heritage means to those descended from immigrants long established in the place of their dreams.”

Accardi’s books include Only More So (Salmon Poetry, 2016) and she has received a Fulbright, along with fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), CantoMundo, the California Arts Council, Yaddo, Fundação Luso-Americana (FLAD), and the Barbara Deming Foundation. She lives in Topanga, California, and has degrees in writing from CSULB and USC. In 2012, Accardi started the “Kale Soup for the Soul” reading series featuring Portuguese-American writers.

Here is Millicent Borges Accardi’s “The Graphics of Home”

Were broken by the Great

Depression, the textile mills,

and the golf ball factories.

We came from The Azores

and the mainland and Canada,

settling in Hawaii and New Bedford

and San Pedro, the original

Navigators. No one was documented.

Here was what I learned at home

thru the lifecycle of a shirt.

Polyester and cotton, it arrived

in the mail, from Sears,

sent as a hand-me-down

from Fall River, carefully washed

and ironed and pressed,

in a tomato box that had been

repurposed and wrapped in brown

paper and smelling of stale

cigarettes. That shirt was worn

and washed and used many times,

as if it had been new. When they

frayed, the elbows were mended

and torn pockets were reconnected

with thick carpet-makers’ thread.

When the sleeves were too worn

to restore, they were scissored

off to make short sleeves and then

the new ends were folded and hemmed

until no more and then there was the time

when the sleeves were cut off

entirely, to create a summer top

or costume for play time, sleeveless,

perhaps a vest for a pirate.

When outgrown and too worn

for even that, the placket of buttons was removed,

in one straight hard cut along the body

of the shirt front, through and through.

The buttons were pulled off by hand,

for storage in an old cookie tin,

the cloth cut into small usable pieces

for mending, for doll clothes, for

whatever was left over. The rest, torn

into jagged rags for cleaning and, if the fabric was soft,

used for Saturday’s dusting of the good furniture

in the den. Whatever was left, was sold

by the pound, wrapped and rolled into

giant cloth balls, sold to the rag man

who made his rounds in the neighborhood

all oily and urgent and smiling as if

his soul were a miracle of naturalized

birth.

From Through a Grainy Landscape by Millicent Borges Accardi, New Meridian Arts (2021)

Nemésio and his translator. Painting by Henrique Mourato, 1992.
Photo by Ana Cristina Gil, University of the Azores.

My apologies for not being on top of my game with regards to National Poetry Month Mailings this year. Samantha and I just returned from an emotional trip to our beloved island of São Miguel, in the Azores, after two years away.

It was emotion-filled not only because the pandemic kept us way for two years—we had tried to go back as recently as December, but Omicron dissuaded us—but because in the interim years we had determined that we want to divide our time between there and our new home in the Berkshires and this trip solidified and confirmed that plan.

On top of that, we held a ceremony to place a plaque at the Praça do Emigrante (Emigrant Square) honoring the memory and sacrifice of my two great-grandparents who emigrated from the island in 1906. Joining us were cousins from my family there, the Casquilho family, along with the director and staff from the Associação dos Emigrantes Açorianos.

It was a windy afternoon, and the waves were crashing against the rocky shore along the north coast of the island, as if the spirit of my great-grandparents were making their presence known.

All this to say that I’m behind in my weekly mailings and I apologize. This week, I’m going to share post one of my translations of the great Azorean poet Vitorino Nemésio, “Ship,” which I hope you will enjoy. It originally appeared in Gávea-Brown Journal and was reprinted in my new book, Wine-Dark Sea: New & Selected Poems & Translations. Here it is in the original Portuguese and in my translation:

Navio

Tenho a carne dorida

Do pousar de umas aves

Que não sei de onde são:

Só sei que gostam de vida

Picada em meu coração.

Quando vêm, vêm suaves;

Partindo, tão gordas vão!

Como eu gosto de estar

Aqui na minha janela

A dar miolos às aves!

Ponho-me a olhar para o mar:

—Olha-me um navio sem rumo!

E, de vê-lo, dá-lho a vela,

Ou sejam meus cílios tristes:

A ave e a nave, em resumo,

Aqui, na minha janela.

—Vitorino Nemésio, Nem Toda A Noite A Vida

___

Ship

My flesh is sore

from the landing of some birds

I don’t know where they’re from.

I only know that they, like life,

sting in my heart.

When they come, they come softly;

leaving, they go so heavy!

How I like to be

here at my window

giving my mind over to the birds!

I’m looking at the sea:

look at that aimless ship!

And, seeing it, give it a lamp[i],

or my sad eyelashes:

the bird and the ship, in a nutshell,

here, at my window.

—translated from the Portuguese by Scott Edward Anderson


[i] For “vela,” I like “lamp” here, rather than “candle” or “sail,” because it echoes the idea of lighting a lamp to draw in a weary traveler—although I think “salute” or “sign” might also work, although not technically accurate. Also “lamp” hearkens back to Nemésio’s stated desire, expressed in his Corsário das Ilhas, which I’ve been translating for Tagus Press, of wanting to be a lighthouse keeper.

I’m behind in posting this year’s National Poetry Month poems, and I was reminded of that fact by several readers who reached out wondering whether they’d fallen off the list. My apologies!!

We finally made it back to the Azores after two years away and I’ve been busy preparing for a lecture I am giving at the University of the Azores this evening (as I write this) and a book launch event at the bookstore of my Azorean publisher, Letras Lavadas, in Ponta Delgada on Thursday.

Still, no excuse.

Then, this morning, I saw Dana Levin’s poem below, posted by several friends on social media from its appearance in the New York Times Magazine this week, and—given recent events in Ukraine and Sacramento—I decided it was the poem to start with this year.

Dana Levin is a national treasure. Her poetry is both erudite and approachable, a rich combination of everyday observations, science, and deep human feeling. 

Dana grew up in California’s Mojave Desert, earned a BA from Pitzer College and an MA from New York University. Her collections of poetry include Banana Palace (2016), Sky Burial (2011), Wedding Day (2005), and In the Surgical Theatre (1999). She teaches at Maryville University in St. Louis, where she is distinguished writer-in-residence.

Here is Dana Levin’s poem, “Instructions for Stopping,” from her new book, Now Do You Know Where You Are, out now from Copper Canyon Press.

By Dana Levin

Say Stop.

Keep your lips pressed together
after you say the p:

(soon they’ll try
to pry

your breath out—)



Whisper it
three times in a row:

Stop Stop Stop

In a hospital bed
like a curled-up fish, someone’s

gulping at air—

How should you apply
your breath?



List all of the people
you would like
to stop.

Who offers love,
who terror—

Write Stop.
Put a period at the end.

Decide if it’s a kiss
or a bullet.

Here’s how it appeared in the New York Times Magazine on Sunday: Insructions for Stopping.

In conversation with Kathryn Miles

On #pubday eve, Kathryn Miles and I got together to chat about my new book, Wine-Dark Sea: New & Selected Poems & Translations. We had a wide-ranging conversation about the book, specific poems, finding love at middle age, the idea of home, and the Azores — and I even read a poem in Portuguese.

Have a look here:

The book came out March 1st and is available through the links on my website: scottedwardanderson.com/wine-dark-sea

My Year in Writing: 2021

November 24, 2021

Poster for my talk at the Humanities Forum of Providence College, September 2021

Now is the time of year, between my birthday and the end of the year, when I take stock of my year in writing.

What a year it’s been, deepening my connections to my ancestral homeland of the Azores, as well as my ties to the diaspora throughout North America. Here we go:

  • Signed contract with Shanti Arts for Wine-Dark Sea: New & Selected Poems & Translations to be published in Spring 2022. (Technically signed this at the very end of 2020, but thought it was worth mentioning again.)
  • Interview and review by Esmeralda Cabral appeared in Gávea-Brown and was later translated into Portuguese by Esmeralda and Marta Cowling and appeared in Diário dos Açores.
  • Published four translations by Margarida Vale de Gato from Dwelling in Colóquio/Letras by the Gulbenkian Foundation. And signed contract with Poética Edições for Habitar: uma ecopoema, translation by Margarida of my book Dwelling: an ecopoem. Received funding for Margarida’s translation from FLAD.
  • Associação dos Emigrantes Açorianos AEA video presentation, “Açores de Mil Ilhas” for World Poetry Day.
  • Dwelling featured in a class at Providence College on Environmental Philosophy, thanks to Professor Ryan Shea; spent a week there, including teaching three classes and giving a reading/talk at the PC Humanities Forum.
  • Participated in session with Margarida Vale de Gota’s translation students at University of the Lisbon via Zoom.
  • Finished a draft of my translation of Vitorino Nemésio’s Corsário das Ilhas and revisions corresponding to new (2021) Portuguese edition.
  • Published “Wine-Dark Sea” (poem) in America Studies Over_Seas.
  • Published two poems, “The Pre-dawn Song of the Pearly-eyed Thrasher” and “Under the Linden’s Spell,” in The Wayfarer.
  • Published “Phase Change” (poem) in ONE ART (online poetry journal).
  • Scrapped portions of my work-in-progress, The Others in Me, after consulting with two writer friends about it, but found a new approach through working with Marion Roach Smith, which I will start in 2022…

What a year! I am exceedingly grateful to everyone who has supported my writing over the past year. As Walter Lowenfels wrote, “One reader is a miracle; two, a mass movement.” I feel like I’ve been blessed by a mass miracle this year!

Please join me this Thursday, 3 June, at 7PM EDT, for a reading and talk I’m giving for the New Bedford Whaling Museum, which focuses on the connections between the Azores, New Bedford, and Rhode Island, whaling, and other Atlantic Crossings.

Inspired by my explorations into my family heritage, which in turn inspired my book-length poem Azorean Suite/Suite Açoriana, this reading and talk will explore the journeys of various waves of immigrants to America and their connection across the Atlantic to the Azores.

I’ll share passages from Azorean Suite, as well as from my work-in-progress, a research-driven memoir called “The Others in Me: A Journey to Discover Ancestry, Identity, and Lost Heritage.”

The ZOOM event is past, but you can watch the video here: Whaling Museum

Hope to “see” you there!

For my bonus post this year, wrapping up this Poetry Month featuring poets of the Azores and its Diaspora, I want to share one of my translations of the great 20th Century Azorean poet Vitorino Nemésio. (This translation appears in the current issue of Gávea-Brown: A Bilingual Journal of Portuguese-North American Letters and Studies, along with four others.)

Vitorino Nemésio statue on Terceira Island, the Azores islands, Portugal.
Photo by Manuel de Sousa, Creative Commons License

A poet, essayist, and public intellectual, Nemésio was born on Terceira Island in 1901 and is best known for his novel Mau tempo no canal (1945), which was translated into English by Francisco Cota Fagundes and published as Stormy Isles: An Azorean Tale.

In 1932, the quincentennial year of Gonçalo Velho Cabral’s “discovery” of the Azores, Nemésio coined the term “açorianidade,” which he would explore in two important essays, and which would become the subject of much debate over the years. There are those who see the term as somewhat limiting: describing as it does a specific, fixed set of qualities of the island condition—insularity, for example—that belies a greater dynamism in the spirit of the islanders.

Nevertheless, I think its usefulness as a term is somewhat expanded when we look at what Nemésio himself said about it, reflecting the entirety of his term rather than one dimension of it. Instead of limiting it as a descriptor to what it’s like to be born on the islands, Nemésio asserted that it was appropriate, too, for those who emigrated from the islands, as well as those who later returned. (And, by extension, as I said in a recent interview, I like to think he intended it to continue through or beyond the generations.) 

The term, wrote Antonio Machado Pires in his essay, “The Azorean Man and Azoreanity,” “not only expresses the quality and soul of being Azorean, inside or outside (mainly outside?) of the Azores, but the set of constraints of archipelagic living: its geography (which ‘is worth as much as history’), its volcanism, its economic limitations, but also its own capacity as a traditional ‘economy’ of subsistence, its manifestations of culture and popular religiosity, their idiosyncrasy, their speaking, everything that contributes to verify identity.”

As a “warm-up exercise” for translating Nemésio’s travel diary, Corsário das Ilhas (1956), for which I am currently under contract with Tagus Press of UMass Dartmouth (with financial support from Brown University), I started with some of his poems. And I hope to continue with more, because Nemésio is worthy of a larger audience here.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief tour of some of the poetry of the Azores and its Diaspora.

Here is Vitorino Nemésio’s “A Árvore do Silêncio” and my translation, “The Tree of Silence”:


A ÁRVORE DO SILÊNCIO

Se a nossa voz crescesse, onde era a árvore?

Em que pontas, a corola do silêncio?

Coração já cansado, és a raiz:

Uma ave te passe a outro país.

Coisas de terra são palavra.

Semeia o que calou.

Não faz sentido quem lavra

Se o não colhe do que amou.

Assim, sílaba e folha, porque não

Num só ramo levá-las

com a graça e o redondo de uma mão?

(Tu não te calas? Tu não te calas?!)

—Vitorino Nemésio de Canto de Véspera (1966)

_____________

THE TREE OF SILENCE

If our voice grew, where was the tree?

To what ends, the corolla of silence?

Heart already tired, you are the root:

a bird passes you en route to another country.

Earthly things are word.

Sow what is silent.

It doesn’t matter who plows,

if you don’t reap what you loved.

So, why not take them,

syllable and leaf, in a single bunch

with the graceful roundness of one hand?

(Don’t you keep quiet? Don’t you keep quiet?!)

—translated from the Portuguese by Scott Edward Anderson

from Gávea-Brown—A Bilingual Journal of Portuguese-North American Letters and Studies, vol. 43. Brown University, 2021