Tatiana Faia

Tatiana Faia

Tatiana Faia (1986) grew up in Lisbon and lives and works in Oxford. She is the author of one book of short stories and three books of poems. Her most recent poetry collection, Um quarto em Atenas/A Room in Athens (Lisbon, Tinta da China Press, 2018), includes a number of poems in which myths and canonical cultural references are misplaced in contemporary landscapes, with a special focus on that of Greece. She holds a PhD in Ancient Greek Literature (Homer’s Iliad) and has translated Homer and Anne Carson into Portuguese. Her poems and short stories have been published in magazines and literary journals in Brazil, England, Spain, The Netherlands, the United States, and Lithuania. Throughout 2018 and 2019, she has collaborated with the European and Nordic Poetry Festivals, in the UK. She shares editorial responsibilities in the publishing project “Enfermaria 6” (Ward 6), which exists both as an online magazine and an independent imprint, with a focus on Portuguese and Brazilian poetry. A room in Athens was most recently published in Brazil (Macondo Press, 2019).


lies buried not far
from where he’s buried
he at the centre with an austere epitaph
reading “he remained free forever”
I am inclined to agree
even if I am not entirely sure what that means
wooden cross and rope
marking the place
and an austere high grave in black stone

the writer returned home
to be buried in the place where he was born
the place he left in his early youth
never to come back

the writer’s second wife
is discreetly buried
not at his side
but in one of the corners of the garden
her epitaph featuring only her name
and the time of a life that lasted precisely
a hundred years

the second wife of the writer
lived long enough to survive him
the first wife however
kept her married name
long after the divorce
which happened not long after
the writer encountered his second wife

this indiscreet note
features by the way
in every chronology
of the writer’s life I read

the bestowing of a name
first as a mark of possession
and then like the residue of gold dust
that accumulates on collateral objects
objects that can be contaminated
by the proximity of more expensive metals
or misplaced, like one of the many fragments
of Venetian or Byzantine vases
which fill in their patch-like form
the rooms of the museum dedicated
in this island
to this writer

like most accidental things
something fundamental is inlaid
by the heavy blow of the hammer
by violence, and time
in the harmony we cannot do without
of what at first seemed
an utterly irrelevant piece

Heraklion, June 20, 2017


way beyond all this is your understanding
a field of hay exposed in the inside of a lens
just before it is hit by the light
when the preciseness of a moment overwhelms you
and turns around exposed to itself
like a fragment of silver paper whirling in a storm
tall stone buildings closing in on all the escape routes
of inner streets where cars move at the slowest speeds

but that is not what I remember
what I remember is not
what some classical poet might
have left engraved in lines to which no breath
could imprint the rhythm of speech
when it comes across as human flesh and bone
not merely some literary beast
but the urgency of a body minus its plot

what I remember about her
is a day of military parade when sweat
glued that white shirt to the body
and I followed her into the crowd
beyond guards and lined-up people
gathered together to see soldiers parade
what I remember
is the sudden realization
that a graceful error
can be the most logical conclusion to a given step
and noticing that no shape whatsoever
could bring back that moment before day breaks
when a face finds its double
in the glass surface of a lake
for sure nothing about this
is related to bucolic poetry
clear mornings straight out of mythology
suddenly interrupted by the arrows of a god in exile

I followed her and I lost her and still
I came back to try and see her one last time
in inner streets where cafés are empty
mid-afternoon due to the siege of routines
when secret motives are nurtured
behind closed doors
nope, I learned nothing about her world
nothing about the secrets she carried

pawn and strategist
what stayed with me a long time after
was that walk of many hundreds of meters
through streets crowded with people
her long hair tied in a knot
how was I to name that before I knew what it was
gold, dust, a papercut
in the memory of a ghost
unavoidable, real even before
light hits the impersonality
of an unfamiliar room
after a night of insomnia

Oxford, September 3, 2017

Poetry in this post: © Tatiana Faia
Published with the permission of Tatiana Faia