NOTE. The basic book for Haroldo de Campos in English is Novas: Selected Writings, edited by Antonio Sergio Bessa, Odile Cisneros, and Roland Greene, published by Northwestern University Press in 2007. While Haroldo died in 2003, he and his brother Augusto are widely acknowledged today as two of the truly major poets of the last hundred years, bringing poetry and poetics together.
[Best known among us as the cofounder (with his brother Augusto de Campos and Décio Pignatari) of Noigandres, the great Brazilian experimental and concrete poetry movement of the later twentieth century, Haroldo moved his work in multiple directions, to place him among the truly grand poets of the Americas, North and South, early and late, and in multiple languages.
“The Libido for the Ugly” is the title of an essay the great American journalist, H.L. Mencken, wrote in the 1920s about the land and city-scapes he felt had been trampled into nightmare and belittling destitution as we, a hundred years later, are being trampled by presidential edicts which are the most invigorated corporate crusades to undo our Constitution and environment we have seen in generations.
Of this beautifully complex poem Vicuña writes by way of introduction: “The piece comprises three poems and was commissioned by Lila Zemborain for the book-catalog of the exhibition ‘Xul Solar and Borges: The Art of Friendship’ at the Americas Society in New York, 2013.
Translated from Spanish by Christopher Winks
I write these lines on the day of Hurricane Sandy, the biggest storm in history, the beginning of the future, lashing Manhattan.
Hexagram 25 / Wu Wang / Innocence (The Unexpected)