When Morning Breaks by Corsino Fortes


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This week's poem is 'When Morning Breaks ' by Corsino Fortes from Cape Verde. The poem is read first in English translation by Sean O'Brien and then in Portuguese by Corsino himself.

Born and brought up on the Cape Verdean island of São Vicente, Corsino Fortes studied in Portugal and spent much of his working life abroad, so while his work is concerned with giving voice to the life of his own country, his perspective is often that of an exile, and exile and redemptive return are among his recurring themes. Significantly he uses the oral language Cape Verdean Creole, as well as standard Portuguese (sometimes one or other, sometimes the two blended together) - itself a powerful statement reinforcing the idea of the islands' distinctive African nature. Fortes's began writing in the dying days of colonial rule, and he uses his work to reclaim, almost to recreate, his newly reborn country. But while the islands' post-colonial nature is constantly conspicuous, these are not obviously political poems, or at least not as we usually understand that term; they do not deal with the country's governments, leaders or freedom-fighting heroes, but present the islands almost mythically - a living place imbued with creative, regenerative forces.

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