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Cavalo Pavão (Peacock Horse) 1998
Oil Painting by Maria Cristina Gama de Figeiredo
Photo Credit: CristinaGamaEscritora Blogspot


My Poetry Corner November 2016 features a poem on gratitude by Brazilian poet, painter, and philosopher Maria Cristina Gama de Figueiredo (1964-2010), born in Aracaju, the capital of Sergipe in Northeast Brazil.

Very little about the life of the poet is available online. She died at the relatively young age of forty-six years. Newspaper articles about her passing don’t state the cause of death. Her producer for more than twelve years defined her “as a restless soul who managed to transform her pain into art.” Was her pain emotional, physical, or both? I don’t know.

The journalist and historian Luiz Antonio Barreto (Sergipe/Brazil, 1944-2012) noted that Maria Cristina Gama always stood out for her irreverent and strong personality revealed in her writings, by thinking of poetry “with reflection that goes beyond language to become an instrument that art brings to the cultural dialogue of peoples.”

In her poem “Of the Injunctions,” Maria Cristina Gama lashes out at her critics. Was she defending the LGBT community?

Who censures
that which unties
the knot of the heart
by whatever means within reach
is small, is hypocritical, and is inhumane.

Her stand in defying societal norms and being true to herself are evident in her poem on “Beauty”:

The beauty that
I have within me
has no time or space
to express itself.

Despite the criticisms about her life and character, she pushes ahead with her writing. She writes in “Construction of Body of Work”:

All the bits of life
despised by people
were what allowed me
to build my Body of Work.

Our perception of time intrigued her. Was it because she knew her life would be short? “Today is my whole life,” she writes. In “Mystics,” she contemplates the New Year:

New Year, repeats everything already repeated,
but gives me new eyes
for the same things

In “The Instruments of Time,” she reflects on the conditions of our precarious lives with its sadness and joy.

What is man if not a fleck of wind and enigma
guiding himself between the lines of destiny and darkness,
now victim of bad times now laughing at his stroke of luck?

Sourced from the poet’s Facebook Page, the featured poem is untitled. Based on its essence, I have taken the liberty to name it “Gratitude.” With her perception that everything in our lives is nature, even our manufactured objects, Maria Cristina Gama surrenders her being – indifferently nature – in gratitude to nature. She concludes:

It’s better to be grateful than ungrateful
even imbued with so much pain
to be less crazy the better to forget the wound.

When we become enamored with our own grandeur and creative genius, we can easily forget that everything is nature. Without gratitude for all that Earth provides us, we fail to protect, preserve, and defend what is truly essential for life.

To read the complete featured poem and learn more about the work of Maria Cristina Gama de Figueiredo, go to my Poetry Corner November 2016.