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It’s the Soul That’s Erotic: An Essay on Adélia Prado

by Ilya Kaminsky


30 pp.  / paper (embossed)  /  $10.00
Orison Books
ISBN: 978-0-9964397-9-4
Distributed to the trade by Itasca Books
1-800-901-3480  /
Publication Date: December 5, 2017


In this revised and expanded version of an essay that originally served as an introduction to Ex Voto: Poems of Adélia Prado (Tupelo Press, 2013), renowned poet and translator Ilya Kaminsky examines the embodied religious devotion of one of Brazil’s greatest poets, asking what it means to be a mystic in our time. The chapbook also includes an uncollected Prado translation by Ellen Doré Watson.





“This engaged meditation on the mystical and the poetic serves not only to make clear Kaminsky’s own take on the work, but also provides a lively introduction to Prado’s work.”

José Angel AraguzThe Friday Influence





“[Prado’s] addresses are fierce, frank, outrageous, and sensual:

What I have to tell you
Is of such high order and so precious
That if I kept it to myself
It would feel like stealing:
The asshole is beautiful!
(‘Object of Affection’)


The eroticism on every page in these poems expresses utter devotion. According to [Ellen Doré] Watson, the work is ‘oral in nature, and comprises an ongoing spiritual journey, but—despite her alternating resistance and acceptance of her role as God’s mouthpiece—Prado’s is not a collective or imparting voice, but a searching, struggling, interior one.’ The humor in her poems is laughing at the edge of the abyss: she has spent years in darkest depression. The tension between these two states produces poetry.”





Adélia Prado is one of the foremost living Brazilian poets. Recipient of Canada’s Griffin Lifetime Recognition Award, several books of her poems in English translation by Ellen Doré Watson have been published, including Ex-Voto: Poems of Adélia Prado (Tupelo Press, 2013) and The Mystical Rose: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2014).





Ilya Kaminsky was born in Odessa, former Soviet Union in 1977, and arrived in the United States in 1993, when his family was granted asylum by the American government. He is the author of Dancing in Odessa (Tupelo Press), which won the Whiting Writer’s Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Metcalf Award, and the Dorset Prize. The recipient of the Ruth Lilly Fellowship, the Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship, and the Yinchuan International Poetry Prize, Kaminsky is the co-editor of The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry, an anthology of 20th-century poetry in translation. Kaminsky teaches English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University. His second poetry collection, Deaf Republic, is forthcoming from Graywolf Press.

It’s the Soul That’s Erotic: An Essay on Adélia Prado, by Ilya Kaminsky

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