Ana Luísa Amaral, one of Portugal’s most acclaimed contemporary writers, was born in Lisbon in 1956. A scholar of Anglo-American literatures with a doctoral dissertation on Emily Dickinson, she published her first collection of poetry, Minha Senhora de Quê (Mistress of What), in 1990. The Art of Being a Tiger offers a representative selection of Amaral’s poems, from the 1990s to the present, in a precise and luminous translation by Margaret Jull Costa. The collection highlights the poet’s manifold intertextual engagements—from Portugal’s literary giants, Luís de Camões and Fernando Pessoa, to landmarks of second-wave feminist theorizing such as Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar’s The Madwoman in the Attic. It foregrounds Amaral’s passionate attentiveness to the here and now, as likely to result in transformative explorations of everyday scenarios of domesticity as to lead the poet to confront large-scale political crises of her day. Such is the capacious receptivity of Amaral’s art of thereness, with its responsive capability always already disciplined by a poetics that is at once formally demanding and deeply idiosyncratic, and its artfulness always already in the process of yielding to the unpredictable pressures of the real.
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