What's in a Name


Ana Luísa Amaral (Author), Margaret Jull Costa (Translator)

Our Retail Price:£12.99

Add to Basket


Poems of effervescent grace from one of the best-known and best-loved poets of Portugal

With the elliptical looping of a butterfly alighting on one’s sleeve, the poems of Ana Lui´sa Amaral arrive as small hypnotic miracles. Spare and beautiful in a way reminiscent both of Szymborska and of Emily Dickinson (it comes as no surprise that Amaral is the leading Portuguese translator of Dickinson), these poems—in Margaret Jull Costa’s gorgeous English versions—seamlessly interweave the everyday with the dreamlike and ask “What’s in a name?”

“How solid is a name if answered to,” Amaral answers, but “like the Rose—no, like its perfume: ungovernable. Free.” There is much freedom within Amaral’s poetry, room for mysteries to multiply, and yet her beautiful lines are as clear as water:


And that time of smiles Which does, incidentally,


really exist, I swear, as does the fire

And the invisible sea, which with nothing will agree


“With the original Portuguese to the left and the translated English to the right, this collection of poems beautifully weaves together myths, histories, voyages, and language with elegant ease. Amaral wears her attentiveness on her sleeve, deftly considering her place at home, in her city, and in the wilds.” — Drawn and Quarterly

“Amaral carves a space for fragmentation, uncertainty, and meditative silence within the repertoire of inherited forms. In this accomplished volume and translation, Amaral’s subtle experimentation makes strange an artistic repertoire we thought we knew.” — Publishers Weekly

“Ana Luisa Amaral's poems read as intimate conversations between the poet and reader, in either the early hours of morning or the late hours of night, where small, everyday moments quickly spiral into great cultural, historical, and even cosmic significance. Brilliant.” — The Arkansas International

“This bilingual volume, pairing Costa’s translations with Amaral’s Portuguese originals, relies on humble imagery and plain language to plumb complicated truths.” — The New York Times Book Review

“Inspired: while Costa is particularly adept at bringing into English these moments sought by Amaral of beauty and significance amid the superficially prosaic, she is equally at home with re-creating the texture and density of Amaral’s restrained and aphoristic Portuguese, saturating each word and truncated line with meaning. Amaral’s poetry possesses an intimacy that grants it a sense of timelessness. Yet it speaks to the moment we find ourselves in today.” — Translation and Literature

“In a limpid, poised poetry Ana Luísa Amaral evokes interlinked substances (a book, a mood, a mosquito, color itself, love and trust as central, being a mother, domestic moments and their metamorphic transformations) and affirms Being in the world with both a bedazzled clarity and a notable patience with mysteries and divisions. The strong poems of visitations by the muse herself evoke lyrics of Sappho, while Amaral’s modernist side-glance takes in the oddity of the intersection of us and the cosmos of atoms and chance. Here is a lucid, forthright poet charmed by the paradoxes of each poem, by the tiny gestures and traces of life faceted within each poem, and by the vocation of poetry itself. ” — Rachel Blau DuPlessis

“Brilliant: her words celebrate the hidden potentiality inside every woman—and the spontaneity of life itself, even in the contemplation of sudden death.” — Asymptote

Also By: Margaret Jull Costa View all by author...

  • 9781631495328 72

    Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas: A Novel

    Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, Margaret Jull Costa, Robin Patterson

    Hardcover, 2020

    Machado de Assis’s iconic novel, now considered a progenitor of twentieth-century South American fiction, is finally rendered as a stunningly modern work.
  • The Complete Works of Alberto Caeiro: Bilingual edition

    Fernando Pessoa, Margaret Jull Costa, Patricio Ferrari, Jerónimo Pizarro

    Paperback, 2020

    A bilingual companion to The Book of Disquiet, by Fernando Pessoa
  • 9781631495984 72

    Machado de Assis: 26 Stories

    Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, Margaret Jull Costa, Robin Patterson, Michael Wood

    Paperback, 2019

    This “watershed collection” (The Wall Street Journal) now appears in a selected paperback edition with twenty-six of Machado’s finest stories.
  • Mac's Problem

    Enrique Vila-Matas, Margaret Jull Costa, Sophie Hughes

    Paperback, 2019

    Enrique Vila-Matas’s new novel is perhaps his greatest: “playful and funny and among the best Spanish novelists” (Colm Tóibín)
  • 9780871404961 72

    The Collected Stories of Machado de Assis

    Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, Margaret Jull Costa, Robin Patterson, Michael Wood

    Hardcover, 2018

    A landmark event, the complete stories of Machado de Assis appear in English for the first time in this extraordinary new translation.