Brazilian poets Ananda Lima, Elizandra Souza share stories of identity, gender and culture


TPN File Photo

Posvar Hall.

By Lynnette Tibbott, For The Pitt News

Bruna Kalil Othero Fernandez, a Ph.D. student and associate instructor at Indiana University who teaches Portuguese and Spanish, sat in the Global Hub and soaked in a “food memory” after hearing a poem about the traditional Brazilian dish caruru.

“I felt very emotional because caruru is a famous Brazilian dish, and even though it’s not from my region specifically, I really related to this feeling of having a taste memory related to food,” Fernandez said. “When you eat it, you go back to your family, you go back to your experiences in your hometown and you think about your own identity. Poems about food can talk about our identity and how we feel.”

ADDverse+Poesia and the Luso-Brazilian Student Association hosted “Women’s Voices in Brazilian Poetry” on Friday in Posvar Hall. Ananda Lima read poetry from her collection, “Mother/Land,” and Elizandra Souza shared poems from her publication, “Quem pode acalmar este redemoinho de ser mulher preta?” or “Who can calm this whirlwind of being a Black woman?” in English.

Luana Moreira Reis, the president of ADDverse+Poesia, moderated the event along with Ben Lyons-Weiler, the president of the Luso-Brazilian Student Association. Reis and Lyons-Weiler also ordered traditional Brazilian food such as coxinha and pão de queijo from the restaurant Mercearia.

Lima said her personal life deeply affects her work, and she explores what it means to be a Brazilian woman living in the U.S.

I go through stages in which I focus on different things, but there are themes that come back again and again. Motherhood, inheritance, language, bilingualism, America, history — which are very present in my collection ‘Mother/Land,’” Lima said. “But also vision, perception, aging, light, photography, awe.”

A speaker at the “Women’s Voices in Brazilian Poetry” event on Friday in Posvar Hall. (Courtesy of Don Joseph)

Both poets share their experiences of identity, focusing on how they relate to the world and to each other. According to Reis, their poems not only stand as art, but open a conversation of shared experience.

ADDverse decided to organize an event to celebrate these two recent publications that navigate Portuguese and English to open the discussion on women’s voices in Brazilian poetry,” Reis said. “We wanted to put these two great Brazilian writers in conversation since there are so many points of contact in their work even though they write from different perspectives.”

Luana said the event was about more than just poetry, but building the bridge between art, lived experience and understanding.

Even though most of the conversation was in Portuguese, everyone was listening carefully and connecting with their words,” Luana said. “They asked questions and were moved by their powerful art. As stated by poet Elizandra Souza during the opening of her presentation, events like this show us that language should not be a barrier for us to connect. Our words can go beyond borders.”

Although ADDverse+Poesia and The Luso-Brazilian Student Association focused on poetry by Brazilian women for the event, Reis believes all minority voices need to be uplifted.

“ADDverse+Poesia is a transnational and multilingual poetry collective that prides itself on sharing the stories and works of art from underrepresented communities within our society, including, but not limited to, the LGBTQIA+ community, Black and Indigenous individuals and people living with disabilities,” Reis said.

Lyons-Weiler said these ideals are also ones that parallel the goals of his organization.

“Our goal as an organization is to spread awareness of the Portuguese language, spread awareness of social justice topics and uplift marginalized voices,” Lyons-Weiler said. “We’re trying to highlight all the different elements in the Lusophere.”

Fernandez said the event particularly spoke to her with the combination of the two languages, which is something she often uses in her writing. 

“Overall, it was an amazing experience to hear two poets talk about their works, especially when they are talking about translation and this bridge they can build between the two languages, which is something I also am doing right now in writing in English,” Fernandez said.

The organizations plan to host future events, including “Black Literature in Translation: Grammar of Blackness around the world,” at 2 p.m. on March 31. This event, facilitated by Leonora Paula, features Denise Carrascosa, Guellwaar Adun and Mel Adun as speakers.

Lima said she hopes her words resonate with those who read them. 

“I hope to give people words to something they might feel, or to expose them to a new experience, to challenge their thinking and to share with them the joy of language and of poetry,” Lima said.

A previous version of this story said the food was cooked. It was ordered. It also referred to the Lusa-sphere, instead of the Lusosphere. The article has been updated to reflect this change. The Pitt News regrets this error.