Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Talking to Teresinka Pereira

I met Teresinka Pereira in September 2006 during a short encounter in one of Malta's hotels in the north. She is the President of the International Writers Association and a person very interested in poetry, human rights and travel. She sends her poems through e-mail on a regular basis and we often correspond through interand traditional post. She likes to create contacts between writers and poets from all over the globe. I like her poetry because she writes in a concise way about human sentiments, politics, social and environmental issues. And all this in a very direct way. (Photo from left to right: me, President of the Maltese Poets association, Alfred Massa, Teresinka Pereira, and Secretary of the Maltese Poets Association, Charles Magro - during our meeting with Teresinka in the hotel in Malta).

PS. Where were you born and where do you live today? Where did this interest for poetry come from and when exactly?

TP. I was born in Belo Horizonte, Brasil and I live in Ohio, USA. Since I was five or six years old I wrote poetry. In the house where I grew up there was a library. My aunt who was like a mother to me, was a professor. She had many friends who were writers or poets. I attended with her to poetry recitals and I used to participate in them since I was very young.

PS. What are the roles of Teresinka Pereira today?

TP. You mean, what I do today? I am a poet and a writer. I write poetry everyday and I write articles about politics. I am also a Senator and an Ambassador of the International States Parliament for Safety and Peace. In that “role” I write diplomatic letters to Presidents of Nations, to UN delegates, Governors of States, etc. And I am the President of the International Writers and Artists Association. I correspond with writers and artists in five continents.

PS. What is the IWA and what are its objectives?

TP. The International Writers and Artists Association (IWA) was founded in 1978. The goal of IWA is to promote understanding, friendship and literature/art exchange with poets, writers and artists. IWA has many distinguished members as the Marquis K. Vella Haber, SOSJ Gran Prior International and Head of the Executive of the Supreme Council of the Sov. Order of Saint John of Jerusalem (Malta); Prince Waldemar Baroni Santos (Brasil), Don Cirillo Punzo, Prince of Cnosso and Manzanille (Italy); Lord Viktor Busà, President of the International States Parliament for Safety and Peace; Prince Dom Duarte Nuno João Pio de Orleães e Bragança, of Portugal; Dr. Denis Kelleher Muhilly, President of the American International University; Dr. Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former President of Brasil (1994-2002), Frei Betto, and famous writers as Ernesto Sábato (Argentina), Noan Chomsky (USA), Fernando Alegría (Chile), Rigoberta Menchú (Peace Nobel Prize in 92, Guatemala). Among the immortals: Dr. Jean Bernard (France), Carlos Drummond de Andrade (Brasil), Alberto Moravia (Italy), Ella Fitzgerald (USA), Eugene Ionesco (Romania), Jorge Guillén and Francisco García Pavón (Spain), Juan Carlos María Onetti (Uruguay), Augusto Roa Bastos (Paraguay), Juan Rulfo (Mexico), Julio Cortázar and Manuel Puig (Argentina), Maguerite Duras (France), Melina Merkuri (Greece) and many others, about 1290 associates in 112 countries in the five continents of the world.

PS. It seem that the IWA is not only interested in poetry but in various social and political issues. Can you elaborate about this?

TP. The IWA is a very inclusive organisation and in order to be open to so many artists and writers we have to be very progressive and liberal. But we believe in the common moral decencies: altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, responsibility. We are concerned about war, ozone and soil depletion, pollution, racism, sexism, human rights violation, homelessness, AIDS. We support the rights and freedoms in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for all people, everywhere. We value: respect for and comprehension of all cultures and ethnic traditions; freedom of speech and diversity; we value the rejection of racism, sexism, tribalism and ageism. We promote creative and critical thinking in literature and art. We defend reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and ethical alternatives.

PS. What issues and themes do you discuss in your poetry? What are the languages you work with?

TP. My favourite topics are: love and politics. I write in Spanish, Portuguese and English, in that order. All my poetry is written in these three languages. Then I have many translations into other languages like Russian, French, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Korean, Chinese, Japanese etc. About 20 other languages.

PS. It seems that you prefer to write short poems to longer ones. Why?

TP. I understand how it is to be a reader. As a reader I have short attention span. I know that all of the readers in the world prefer to read a short poem than a long one. Also I write about ideas and feelings. A poem is more efficient when it goes to the point. The repetition is boring. For some reason I prefer to publish one poem at a time, than in the anthologies, magazines, internet. It is good to have a chance to read a short poem and share the poet’s feelings. It takes too much time to read a book.

PS. Which do you prefer: poetry for art’s sake or poetry with a message?

TP. I prefer poetry with a message, written with a lot of art!

PS. How powerful is poetry when it comes to delivering important messages?

TP. It is as powerful as a revolutionary song.

PS. Do you agree with the statement that people prefer prose to poetry? Why?

TP. Yes I agree. It is easier to understand prose, like a short story or a novel than a poem full of metaphors. It is more pleasant too. When you have the time, to read a novel or a book of history gives you more pleasure than poetry. Also, you learn more reading a book of philosophy or politics than when you read a book of poetry.

PS. How important is translation when it comes to poetry?

TP. A good translation is important because it can give the same pleasure to your sensibility reading a poem just as it was in the original, but a bad translation can kill a poem.

PS. How important is Internet for poets, poetry lovers and the public in general? Where does the published book of poetry come in?

TP. Poetry adapted to Internet very fast because it can be read fast. It can be recycled also. But you read it and you forget about it. If you have a book you can go back and read it as many times as you wish, and it does not weary your eyes like the monitor. There will be always a special love for books, libraries and bookstores.

PS. You spend a lot of time travelling from one country to another meeting various poets and writers. Why do you do this? What feedback do you get?

TP. Most of my travelling is for diplomatic reasons. I just combine my interest in meeting writers, artists and poets because these are my favourite kind of people. I prefer to meet poets because I understand them better than I understand politicians. Poets are very special people. They are never boring. I fall in love every time I meet a poet.

PS. What is your relation with Maltese poets?

TP. Before I went to Malta I had the idea that all of the Maltese poets were knights. It was a very romantic idea. My visit to the island was very pleasant. The buildings and the hills and the sea confirmed that feeling of adventure and the poets that I met confirmed my idea of knights and chivalry. Some day I will visit Malta again. Thank you very much for asking.


lewy29 said...

great website thank you to the creator of the the International writers association IWA )

Ruud Janssen said...

How can I contact Teresinka Pereira. We were in contact back in the 80-ies and 90-ies but somehow we lots contact. Great interview!