Excavating Memory

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“Luso-American narratives are also answering the “dominant” cultural discourse in the US, or “talking back to the empire,” finally giving our people there the voice that they, along with any other ethnic or national group, have deserved since the beginning. This is also a very legitimate role of literature—excavating memories and defining the common soul of a people.”

~ Azorean literary critic and author Vamberto Freitas, (from an interview, “Contemporary Azorean and Luso-American Writing,” with Oona Patrick)

In my own small way, I’m adding a few more voices to the Luso-American narrative with the forthcoming publication of Memoria: An Anthology of Portuguese Canadian Writers. The book showcases contemporary prose and poetry that reflect the changing Portuguese Canadian community while supporting new voices in the diaspora. Contributors include Clemente Alves, Edith Baguinho, Nelia Botelho, Esmeralda Cabral, Tony Correia, paulo da costa, Humberto da Silva, Aida Jordão, Irene Marques, Antonio M. Marques, Emanuel Melo, Eduardo Bettencourt Pinto, Paul Serralheiro, Richard Simas, and Laureano Soares. The foreword is by noted academic and author Onésimo T. Almedia. It was an honour to work with the writers on polishing their final pieces for the book.

Memory is a common thread running through nearly all of the pieces. I couldn’t help but see my own life reflected in many of the stories and poems and I imagine many readers will feel the same. In my preface, I write: “I hope the collection of writing within this book widens the realm of possibility for Portuguese Canadian writers and offers insight into who we are as individuals, as members of an all-too-silent ethnic group and more importantly, as the keepers of memories for those who come after us.” This is particularly true at this time. So many of the first generation who landed on Canadian shores back in the 1950s are passing away. As they leave, so do their memories and their stories…

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