Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

Fernanda Dias, the poet who can paint

Posted by Kimberly on June 27, 2007

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
June 27, 2007, page 5 (737 words)

If poetry is food for the soul then say hello to chef Fernanda Dias.
The Macau resident, a mainstay for over twenty years, launched another set of poems, ‘Gao Ge Poems’ yesterday at the Portuguese Bookshop.
Translated from Chinese poet Gao Ge’s works into Portuguese, Fernanda can expect a similar reaction of anticipation from the local community that she has had from previous works.
“I am a poet who can paint,” she says.
Add teacher and author and mulit-linguist to that list and we’re talking about one incredibly talented woman.
“For me painting is another kind of language. I use plastic materials but in some ways the visions of my paintings and my poems are similar.
“What I want to say is, both images, poems with language and painting with material and colours, try to keep memories of the city, which is Macau, in different ways,” she says.
Having arrived in Macau some time during 1986, the woman of unknown years, “of course you can ask and I cannot answer!” finds the loss of the old Macau a little overwhelming.
“Now Macau is very far from the town I knew when I arrived here because everything natural has almost disappeared and it’s a very small island that’s growing and growing.
“Very soon we will not be happy here. Children will not come in the streets. All the small shops will disappear because they cannot pay the rent anymore.
“All what was tradition is getting lost because they didn’t save the old town and make the new town in some other space.
“They have mixed old and new and very soon all we’ll have is memories, I’m afraid,” she says.
But despite the rather dim view of Macau’s growth, Fernanda sees hope, as well as real life.
“We must be open to the new but if you want to find the old town, you will find them in the poems and the paintings, which is a reality,” she says.
Asked what her reasons were for undertaking another translation project, Fernanda says, “
“I felt like I should do this in my own language. I did a collection of about 30 poems.
“What I want is to make the Portuguese, who like to read poetry, know that there are poets from other places like China coming here to Macau and feeling exactly like me.
“I come from the other side of the world! But poetry is a space where we can meet and learn to understand each other,” she says.
Having published her first poetic piece at the tender age of twelve, one could say the art of poetic expression was in her blood.
“I’ve always felt like a poet. I fought these kinds of feelings for a long time because it was not cool to be a poet. I hid this kind of activity for a long time.
“I decided then that poetry was another language you could use. The more languages you can use, the better you can communicate,” she says.
She adds that to be a poet is a style of life.
“[Poetry] is the way I see the world around me,” she says.
Her previous works include Hours of Paper, her first published works in 1992, Days of Prosperity, The River of Veru and The Green Tea, as well as an anthology of poems of Macau.
The first English translation of her short stories was done for the Hong Kong Literary Festival in 2002, by a Professor whom she refers to as “very very good.”
“His writing was so beautiful so I felt even more beautiful when he did it! He’s brilliant and he knows about Macau a lot,” she says.
As far as Fernanda is concerned, there is no technique to interest readers in the art of poetry reading.
“There is a kind of box where you can keep words for the future so I don’t mind if nobody reads them today.
“Maybe in some 300 years we will find them and we will know how we wrote then.
“If I write I am thinking about how to keep the language and some of these words are memories for the future,” she says.
Speaking of the future, Fernanda may already be on her way to another published set of works but is keeping silent for the moment.
“Yes, but I prefer to talk when it’s almost finished. It is a secret of my computer!”

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