DARTMOTH – Azores Regional Government President Jose Manuel Bolero joined officials at the UMass Dartmouth Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture on Monday to celebrate the creation of the Bellis Azorica Book Series featuring works by Azorean authors in translation.
The special event held at the New Bedford Whaling Museum was a display of the five Azorean books that have been translated into English and have been published so far with the support of the Azores regional government by Tagus Press, the publishing arm of the Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture.
“Portuguese authors in general, and Azorean authors in particular, are often not recognized for their talents and contributions,” said Dr. Paola Celeste Gomez Noversa, Director of the Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture. “The significance of the Bellis Azorica book series is that it brings this literature to a wider audience, the English-speaking readers.”
Given the demographics of this region and its close ties to the mid-Atlantic archipelago, she said it made perfect sense to dedicate an entire series to Azorean authors so that more people could realize the beauty and depth of Azorean literature.
“The focus of Tagus Press is to translate the best of Portuguese literature,” she said. “This series takes that to the ultimate expression of community engagement and scholarship because this region, as you all know, is the most populous region in terms of Portuguese descent in the country. There is so much to do between this region and the Azores and this is a great start.”
Bolero said the new book collection will provide a great way to further enhance awareness of Azorean traditions and identity through literature and poetry.
“I am very proud of all the authors who have now started translating here,” he said. “They teach and tell a lot about what our identity reveals and give a cosmopolitan and cosmopolitan feel to the Portuguese and Azorean thinker.”
For him, the translation of these works “represents the projection, culture and intergenerational solidarity of the Azorean identity.”
Bolero hopes that these books will also cultivate interest and instill a sense of pride and curiosity among new generations of Portuguese Americans about their ancestral homeland.
“If only the knowledge of the Portuguese language is imparted, then the opportunity to inform them of the reality of their grandparents or parents will be lost,” he said. “Through literature and poetry, there is this possibility.”
He said that publishing these books is a good start, but it is not enough.
“We need to create a diverse landscape of opportunities to ensure more engagement and more relationships,” he said. “The driver of the relationship that I would like to instill through this strategy is the future. We are proud of the past, but we are equally focused on the future.”
Dr. Mario Pereira, executive editor of Tagus Press and co-editor of Bellis Azorica with Professor Onésimo T. Almeida of Brown University, noted that this is an unprecedented book series.
“The Bellis Azorica is, to my knowledge, the only book series devoted exclusively to the Azores and the English-speaking world, and, therefore, can play a role in shaping understanding of the Azores diaspora,” he said.
The series’ opening volume was Dr. Francisco Cota Vagundez’s fully revised translation of the classic novel Azores: Stormy Islands: An Azorean Tale by Vitorino Nemesio.
said Dr. Fagunds, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
“Antero Quintal, Vitorino Nemesio, Pedro da Silveira, Joao de Mello, Natalia Correa have never experienced migration, but they have been able to capture many aspects of the migrant experience.” [in their books] And then they honor their compatriots who have proven and lived these experiences firsthand.
The second volume of the series is a bilingual edition of “Poems in Absence and Poems from the Island and the World” by Pedro da Silvera, translated into English by Jorge Monteiro.
The other three titles published are: “The Uncharted Islands” by Raúl Brandau, translated by David Brookshaw; “Dark Stones” by Dias de Mello, translated by Gregory McNabb; and “Smiling in the Dark” by Adelaide Freitas, translated by Catherine F. Baker.
Dr. Pereira said the intention is to publish at least two books each year, but there are plans to release three books next year. A collection of sonnets and selected poems by Antero de Quintal is expected to be released this fall, and two collections of poems will follow.
He said the support of the Azores regional government gives Tagus Press much-needed financial stability.
“This support allows us to plan and organize the publication of different different books at the same time. This may seem banal, but it is critical to the success of the Bellis Azorica series,” noting that the publication of any book takes several years.
“During this time, our expenses include copyright, translation fees, design and production fees, printing costs, and events and promotions,” he added. “We need a reliable and predictable budget. That is the key.”
He concluded that in addition to financial aid, the Azure government’s support also provides “legitimacy and clarity” which greatly facilitates the promotion and publication of books.
Bellis Azorica books are available through the UMass Press website at https://www.umasspress.com And Amazon.
Lurdes C. da Silva can be reached at email@example.com. To read more stories about the Portuguese-speaking community in both English and Portuguese, please visit ojornal.com.