corners of hell

Image: Lucio Fontana


Presentation of the book of poems by Yuri Martins-Fontes

Manuel Bandeira once said that there are poets who make poetry the art of inversion. Someone else stated that poetry, as content, has two possible methods: getting to know the world through dreams; or know the dream, through the world.

Yuri Martins-Fontes undoubtedly belongs to the latter methodology. He follows the clues that reality gives him, to situate, with short verses in which he is expert, the somnambulistic state of the soul. As for Manuel Bandeira's observation, he would certainly say of Yuri that, behind the careful release of his verses, hides the actual place – the world – in which he wants to realize his most hidden dreams.

So you have a poet who, like a good poet, knows how to disguise what he does. He embraces the reality that prevents the realization of his dreams:

I want the sweaty body
In the morning of my bed
I want the day you forget
I want the night you love.

Therefore, wanting what he has allows the poet to be self-sufficient and disguise that he wants nothing more than what he (he denies) has. In a way, a return – with the form updated – to Camões’ hermeticism: in the return to the ancients of the poets of the period, characters act not for motu proprio, but through the interference of gods or demigods, as in Iliad ou na Odyssey; Camões developed his own technique in this. De-emotionalization of acts, narrated in poetry.

So the double subject of these Chants of Hell: one who narrates what he chooses; the other, behind, who hides and disagrees, without giving himself in writing. This duplicity – perhaps the divided I – makes some of his verses open to different understandings.

It is we, all the others, who admire this search, this false escape into the past, in the ordinary of life and in the heat.

To read Yuri is, therefore, to unnavigate his boat of anti-dreams. May we do so, in the anguish and in the light moment of these alternating poems that this reading offers us.

*Wilson do Nascimento Barbosa is a poet and professor of history at the University of São Paulo (USP). He is the author, among other books, of Black culture and domination (unisinos).



Yuri Martins-Fontes. corners of hell. São Paulo, Patuá, 2021.


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