- Brazil, Lyric, and the Americas
The title of Charles A. Perrone's latest book—Brazil, Lyric, and the Americas—sounds like the keywords of an essay. As he mentions in the preface, he had previously thought of an alternative title, "Interfaces: Insularity, Invention, Brazilian Lyric in/and the Americas," which he finally used for the introduction. Between the compressed title and the extended one lies Perrone's scholarly proposal and challenge: to condense and create an accessible narrative of a complex, multi-leveled artistic production, addressing the last two decades of Brazilian lyric and its relations with the poetry of the Americas. On a more philosophical note, his study of transamerican poetics "in a comparative perspective can help to answer concerns about the inequalities of globalization and to imagine a utopian hemispheric solidarity" (ix). The title's words function as metonymies of this vast process of interconnecting genres, languages, and nations, finding answers and elaborating sharp questions on the American cultures.
Over the past twenty years, Perrone has researched and written on Brazilian popular music and poetry from the Brazilian Modernism to the present, thus becoming, together with Christopher Dunn, one of the most authoritative and influential scholars in the field. This book focuses on the last twenty-five years and examines varied poetic productions from song lyric and visual poetry to discursive verse presented in multiple media resources. It consists of an introduction, six chapters, and an (In-) Conclusion, as he named it, plus forty-six pages of notes and bibliography. Thematically organized, each chapter refers to a different cultural phenomenon.
Historically and linguistically different from its neighboring countries, Brazil presents singular characteristics—singularity that becomes negative when conceived in terms of isolation and exoticism. The first chapter addresses this issue, having cultural globalization as the core of the Brazilian lyric study. Mass media becomes the default vehicle for disseminating ideas and information, and the ground that allows interrelations of local and international aesthetics. Perrone uses the concept "deterritorialization" and "reterritorialization" to address hybridity and re-signifying lyric in different contexts. This chapter not only summarizes the book's thesis, but it also questions the harmful stereotypical views of Brazil, among which are its insularity and the country's image as "the quintessentially carnivalesque location" (13).
The second chapter focuses on the use of English in Brazilian lyric and the reception of North American poetry in Brazil. Perrone mentions several bilingual anthologies as a literary cooperation between both countries. Nevertheless, Perrone is especially interested in the use of English in nontraditional Brazilian lyric. He also refers to the political aspect of the US- Brazil dialogue.
The third chapter furthers the previous chapter's focus by extending the poetic outreach of US-Brazil relations to a deeper analysis of the mass media and popular culture roles as agents of the "transamerican awareness." Graphic arts, films, and songs are examples of the lyric experience that contributes to the formation of a hybrid poetic imagination. As Perrone questions: "[h]ow not to admit the implications of massive media presence and the imbrications of languages and nations?" (96).
In the fourth chapter, the author traces images of Brazil in epic poems, pointing out the seeds of an early interamerican contact. For him, the "Three Americas" is an ambiguous term, for it is neither just a geographical reference nor an ethnic or cultural-linguistic one; on the contrary, it includes a Pan-American sense, in the widest and most popular Bolivarian use of the term. His mention of an "epical hemispheric fellowship" points to a sign of positive idealism in his critical understanding of cultural differences in the Americas. Even so, his original approach to poetry through the epical grand narrative serves as an indispensable base for his interpretation of a gradual overcoming of historical division within the continent. [End Page 710]
The fifth chapter interconnects Brazil and its neighboring nations through individuals and varied subjects, having as its main axes poetry and mobility (of people, goods, ideas).
The chapter "Scions of Tropicália" is...