Leminski, haiku god

Half Polish, half black, poet Paulo Leminski was famous for his humor and his haiku that mixed lots of Japanese influence to the concrete poetry that dominated the Brazilian scene in the 60s and 70s (Décio Pignatari and the Campos brothers were the main representatives of Concretismo, in case you are wondering). Leminski’s life was short (he died in 1989, in his mid forties), as short as most of his poems (haiku are composed in a 5-7-5 syllables structure).

These translations by  Chris Daniels give you a glimpse of his work. He does a reasonable job, considering all the word play and metric involved. You can also check for Leminski’s own translations (Joyce, Beckett, Mishima, Petronius etc.), novels, short stories, biographies and essays.

The following translations,


the insect on the paper

i trace (a circle) around it

the circle


um salto de sapo

jamais abolirá

o velho poço

a leaping frog

jamais n’abolira

the old pond

cortinas de seda
o vento entra
sem pedir licença”

silk curtains
the wind comes in
without asking

esta vida é uma viagem

pena eu estar

só de passagem

this life is a trip

too bad i’m

just passing through

duas folhas na sandália

o outono

também quer andar

two leaves on my sandal

autumn wants

to walk too