“Here is an article in the form of a couple recollections from last year in Lisbon:
At the top of the uphill-grid that is Bairro Alto, installed on the second floor of a cozy one-bedroom apartment smack in the middle of Travessa da Boa Hora, directly across from the Restaurant Sr. Beef, and having the butcher & the fish monger at both my left & right arms’ reach, respectively, I lived & wrote. […]
And if I needed an éclair (in the shape of a horseshoe and referred to in Portuguese as a kidney) at 4:17 a.m. – maybe accompanied by warm chorizo-stuffed bread or a ham & cheese rectangular puff pastry, or both – this was not only very possible & within a radius of 457 paces from my home, but also, and more importantly perhaps, it was delicious! […]
And so every day, as was my custom, I would gather my things from my office and lumber out the door, carrying on my back the weight of a giant red and blue Portuguese-English dictionary, which was necessary – or that I found it necessary – to the project to carry around with me, everywhere. So upon taking my seat (outside if possible, though in the winter I resigned myself to a small bakery where the air was thick and hot and tasted like yeast) and after tending to the sugar situation of my espresso, I would unzip my yellow and black backpack and remove said red and blue dictionary, and then the facsimiles of whatever part of whatever issue of Orpheu I happened to be working on that day, sipping coffee in between all this, and periodically looking around to just watch things unfold.
[…] About once every two weeks – and especially if there were clothes to be washed – I’d pack a light bag and hop the trains from Lisbon to Setubal, though I always got off in Palmela; from the station it was about a fifteen minute hike to my grandma’s apartment, which took me through a couple of newly developing suburban residential communities and led, over the year, to a slight fear of dogs. […]
One time at Richard Zenith’s house I was telling him about an idea I had to translate some Gertrude Stein poems into Portuguese. A couple weeks later, spurred on by the panic of realizing that if I didn’t actually do these translations, Richard might think I was just a talker, or a dreamer, or full-of-hot-air or something, I got to work. This mini-project’s relation to my actual Fulbright project was in effect two-fold. First. It provided a much needed respite from all that Real work. And secondly, because my Fulbright project centered on translation from the Portuguese into English, it was important for me to also work in the inverse: “Por volta do tamanho que é pequeno, por dentro da popa que é o meio, além dos restos que estão rezando, por dentro do entre que está girando, toda a região é medir e derreter é exagerar.”† […]”
† co-translated with Miguel Martins
Fulbright/Instituto Camões US Student in Portugal, AY 2007/2008.