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Luiza Neto Jorge

Luiza Neto Jorge
Luiza Neto jorge
and her work

 Luiza Neto Jorge was born in Lisbon and in that city died, shortly before her fiftieth birthday, but most of her poetry was written in Paris, where she lived from 1962 until 1970. She published two chapbooks, in 1960 and 1961, before going to France, and after returning to her hometown she wrote and published poems sporadically (including a few in French), but at that point most of her literary activity was centered on translation. The many, mostly French authors whose works she rendered into Portuguese include Stendhal, the Marquis de Sade, Verlaine, Michaux, Artaud and Yourcenar.

She also adapted several texts for theater and wrote dialogues for cinema. Regarded as one of the outstanding poets to emerge in Portugal in the early 1960s, she is also the most difficult to apprehend. She was a poet in constant revolt, not only or openly against Salazar’s so-called Estado Novo [New State], or the traditional norms of society, or the subordinate status of women, but against the very way thought and language typically happen and poetry is made. Her poems break the usual laws of reason and of reasonableness. The subject is often unstable, the narrative of what’s happening tends to be fuzzy, there are unexpected shifts in register and point of view, and stanzas or entire poems may feel unresolved.

In Luiza Neto Jorge eroticism permeates the images and the very language of poetry. If the houses of her homonymously titled poem (see “Houses”) are personifications of feminine sexuality, the poetic vocabulary of “The House of the World” is invaded by names of and allusions to body parts; a simple birthmark becomes a world replete with sexualized memories (“erotic cobwebs”) and worlds within worlds (the hallway of the third stanza, or the oval mirror of the fifth). All these houses, like her poems in general, are open spaces, accommodating the world at large.

Something of Surrealism’s free and extravagant associations seems to characterize Jorge’s poetry, which does not depend, however, on automatic or unconscious processes. It seems ultraconscious, hyperreal, but averse to the typical processes of poetic representation. Writing, for this poet, is not an ascension into the lyrical realm but a probe into what is closest to home: minimal things («Magnolia»), the body («Head in an Ambulance»), everyday sights and sounds («Waking up on the Street of the World»). (…)



  • A Noite vertebrada, 1960
  • Quarta dimensão, 1961
  • Terra imóvel, 1964
  • O seu a seu Tempo, 1966
  • Dezanove Recantos, 1969
  • O Ciclópico acto, 1972
  • Os Sítios sitiados, 1973
  • A Lume, 1989
  • Poesia 1960-1989, 1993



See excerpt from: Poesia translated from the portuguese by Richard Zenith 



  • Par le feu, translated by Christian Mérer and Nicole Siganos. Nantes: Le Passeur-Cecofop, 1996

  • Prélude pour sexe et rêve, translated by Marie-Claire Wromans. Brussels, 1994


  • Destrets d’indret, translated by Arnau Pons i Roig. Lleida: Pagès, 1999
  • Literary Translation Grand Prix – P.E.N. Clube/Portuguese Translators Association, 1986 (Mort à crédit)