Brazil, Under these Circumstances

Priscila Uppal


In 2003 I took a trip to Brazil for the first time after discovering my runaway mother’s whereabouts by accident on the Internet. I had not seen nor heard from her since I was eight years old, but I boarded a plane in Toronto and landed, without language and with little knowledge of Brazilian culture, in Sao Paulo, where she was working. I spent ten turbulent days with her and then we visited Brasilia where the rest of my Brazilian family awaited my own strange reappearance in their lives. “Brazil, Under These Circumstances” is aseries of poems that exploreshow place is affected by our imaginative perceptions of our families. In much the same way that when we are disoriented we look for landmarks to stabilize ourselves, the speaker attempts to navigate her way through the family drama by accessing translated confessions, troubled memories, even absurd adventures. Brazil, like a runaway mother,constantly changes,from exotic jungle to criminal haven to
government town to a treasure trove of garbage. The purse image, which repeats prominently several times in the titles of poems, also changes throughout the poetic sequence.Can identity be bought? Can memories be mugged? Who does a place belong to? Who does a mother (or,for that matter, a grandmother or an uncle) belong to? The landscape in these poems undergoes constant negotiation within the speaker’simagination. And that negotiation is still ongoing.

Full Text:


Copyright © Canadian Journal of Environmental Education (CJEE) ISSN 1205-5352