The geographic and intellectual displacements
allow a person to better understand themselves, their own
culture, their intrinsic differences and their
inter-relations. Brazil is a country of immigrants, formed by
miscegenation; it is exotic and sensual (in 'Jack Lynch', the
father who comes from Ballinasloe, 'was devoured by a mulatto
working-class goddess'), and in the overlapping of cultures
and genders it is defined in the global and the local. These
new hybrid identities that appear from the intersection of
several regional and foreign cultural expressions are also a
product of cultural diasporas, as expressed in 'The Daring
Middle-Aged Man on the Flying Trapeze' where Dublin and São
Paulo each intersect with the 'other' in the celebration of
Bloomsday at Finnegans Pub in São Paulo:
when I heard that on June 16
Finnegans Pub in São Paulo
actor would be declaiming in Portuguese
persuaded me to fly with her to Dublin.
remonstrated with her: 'Fly?'
insisted: ‘Dublin is a gas,
Dirty, ordinary, transcendental city – just
like São Paulo!' (30)
In this poem, Durcan tries to give voice
to the hybrid native in a process that the cultural critic
Homi Bhabha (1995) calls transnational and
translational. Brazil at the turn of the twenty-first
century is a diaspora space, whose culture is transnational
because it is anchored in specific stories of decolonisation
and displacements: 'Myself, I am Brazilian Armenian Orthodox'.
The poet narrates how Brazilian culture builds its own
meanings from the perspective of the 'other'. Ireland and
Brazil become one in the voice of the persona:
the presence of a Brazilian couple in a garden of red, white
and yellow roses at midnight in Dublin converges tangentially
with the Japanese actor in São Paulo at Finnegans at nine in
the evening; James Joyce is the intersection point. Ulysses
revisited provokes the circularity of signs that are
resignified or translated into different forms in contexts and
systems of multiple cultural values, thus forming cultural
hybridism. It must be questioned, then, as to how the
production and reproduction of transnational social and
cultural phenomena reveal external socio-cultural
references that incorporate and transform the 'original'
alterity into new dislocated structures that allow
different cultural practices:
Joyce is the only man in the world who comprehends
comprehends that a woman can never be adumbrated,
a Japanese actor
Finnegans Pub in São Paulo
extracts from Ulysses. (31)
What happens then to the notion of
‘authenticity' of a symbol when it appears in a new cultural
context? How can one ‘authenticate' hybridism in new cultural
practices? The syncretic, creolised, translated and hybrid
cultural forms represent the energy in the resignification of
cultures in intersection, of identities in the process of
decentralisation and reinvention/construction of
themselves; they also represent the translational movement of
symbols and myths of a culture, in signs that are expanded
into new meanings, that always refer to the heterogeneity of
In my view, it is this transnational and
translational process that is the high point of Paul Durcan's
poetry: How does one ‘authenticate' the multifarious cultural
reality as seen through the various reflections of a prism? I
believe that Durcan's poetry represents this value and
multi-axial intrinsic power of cultures, by transforming and
giving new meaning to its symbols, and attributing to poetry
the function and meaning that Seamus Heaney (1995) has claimed
of the poetic art. On receiving the Nobel Prize for
Literature, Heaney said that poetry was necessary as an order,
'true to the impact of external reality and [...] sensitive to
the inner laws of the poet's being' (16). Heaney insists that
a poem should surprise and that this surprise should be
transitive; and that the representation of the external world
should be 'a returning of the world itself' (16). Paul
Durcan's poetry, inserted in the representation of
the quotidian, suggests a ‘new' means of constructing cultural
identities that give life and meaning to the world itself
through its multiple re-readings of the past.
 I appropriate Avtar
Brah's concept of diaspora space. It is a site of immanence
that marks the intersectionality of 'diaspora', 'border' and
the 'politics of location'. Thus, it addresses the
'contemporary conditions of transmigrancy of people, capital,
commodities and culture'; the effects of
crossing/transgressing 'the construction and metaphorisation
of territorial, political, cultural, economic and psychic
borders'; the way 'contemporary forms of transcultural
identities are constituted', and how 'belonging and otherness
is appropriated and contested' (1996:242).
 The text of the lecture
can be found at the National Library of Ireland. Angus
Mitchell and Geraldo Cantarino published it in the form of a
bilingual pamphlet entitled Origins of Brazil: A search for
the origins of the name Brazil, with the support of the
Brazilian Embassy in London as part of the commemoration of
the 'Festival Brazil 500'. As a defender of the rights of
subjected peoples, Roger Casement (1864-1916) was British
consul in Africa (1895-1904), and Brazil: Santos (1906), Belém
do Pará (1907) and Rio de Janeiro (1908). After many years of
dedication to the British diplomatic service, he started to
defend the cause of Irish nationalism. In 1916 he was
condemned and hanged for high treason against the British
 Published in The
Anglo-Brazilian Times, n° 41, Vol. 2, Rio de Janeiro, 09
 The Mulhalls were of the
Anglican religion and Anglo-Irish. They would not have
identified with the Irish nationalist movement.
 Green and yellow are
colours that represent the spirit of the country, as they are
the colours of the Brazilian flag and represent its forests
and its gold.
 Name given to the first
explorers leaving from São Paulo in order to expand the
country's territory westwards.
 Similar to bandeirantes:
member of an armed band of early explorers in Brazil; person
travelling into the hinterland of the country
 'The Last Shuttle to
Rio'. In Greetings to Our Friends in Brazil. 17-19.
- Basto, Fernando L.B. Ex-Combatentes
Irlandeses em Taperoá. Rio de Janeiro: Vozes, 1971.
- Bhabha, Homi. 'Freedom's Basis
in the Indeterminate'. Rajchman, The Identity in Question.
New York & London: Routledge, 1995, pp. 47-61.
- Boland, Charlie. 'Greetings to
Brazil in our friends! People, Place and Tradition in Paul
Durcan's Poetry' em: Mutran, M. & Izarra, L. (eds.) ABEI
Journal – The Brazilian Journal of Irish Studies Nº 3,
June 2001: 119-134 (São Paulo: Humanitas).
- Chauí, Marilena. Brasil. Mito
fundador e sociedade autoritária. São Paulo: Fundação
Perseu Abramo, 2000.
- Durcan, Paul. Greetings to
Our Friends in Brazil. One Hundred Poems. London: The
Harvill Press, 1999.
- Hall, Stuart. 'New
Ethnicities'. In: Morley, David & Kuan Hsing Chen (eds.)
Stuart Hall. Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies.
London: Routledge, 1996. pp. 441-449.
- Heaney, Seamus. Crediting
Poetry. Dublin: The Gallery Press, 1995.
- Lindsay-Bucknall, Hamilton.
(1878) A Search for Fortune. The autobiography
of a younger son. Trans. Ezio Pinto Monteiro. Um jovem
irlandês no Brasil em 1874. São Paulo & Rio de Janeiro:
Livraria Hachette do Brasil, 1976.
- Mitchell, Angus, and
Cantarino, Geraldo. Origins of Brazil. A search for the
origins of the name Brazil. London: Brazilian Embassy,
- Mulhall, Marion McMurrough.
Between the Amazon and Andes; or Ten Years of a Lady's Travels
in the Pampas, Gran Chaco, Paraguay and Mato Grosso.
London: E. Stanford, 1881.
Pratt, Mary Louise. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and
Transculturation. London: Routledge, 1992.