On the Shining Screen of the Eyelids by Josely Vianna Baptista, with translations by Chris Daniels is a volume of facing translations divided into two parts. The first part, “from Air,” indeed seems to waft across the senses in a way that is in striking contrast to the blockiness of the typographical layout. The second half, “Corpography,” begins to play with image, and the almost photograph like drawings by Fransisco Faria, incorporate text into the image even as they, as images, are incorporated into the text. There is a short introduction in which Daniels describes his process in translating, giving specific examples of the dilemmas he was faced with and the choices that he made about them.
I was much more interested in the introduction than in the poetry itself. I found that the uniform overspacing made the text difficult on my eyes, and while it certainly problematized the very ideational level of the text, rather than draw me into a deeper interest in and exploration of the sonic, sensory, and typographic levels, it merely turned me off to the work as a whole. On the other hand, the glimpse into the translation process was fascinating, and examining some of the poems as works of translation, even with my limited Portuguese, made the book much more fascinating. The drawings, too, were superb, and while Chris suggests that their photographic quality is a product of the medium of the glossy book pages and the offset printing process and laments the loss of the texture of the originals, I found the juxtaposition of the pseudo-real images with their canvases of skin which served up text inside of image inside of text, added an interesting dimension that would not have existed without the photo-realistic aspect.