Interview with Adora Williams

Adora Williams is graduated in Journalism and Languages and has written poetry for 14 years. She lives in a historic region of Brazil. Her poetry anthology in Portuguese is being published in Brazil and Portugal in December 2022.

TGG: First of all, I am curious how you, a Brazilian from the interior of Brazil, came to be writing English poetry. Are the poems in Treasure Mount Trash, for example, works in translation from Portuguese, or do you write poetry separately in both languages?

AW: I taught myself English at a very young age. I remember being 8 or 9 and everything I wanted to read was originally written in English. I had very tough feelings about translations at that time. So, I thought I should learn the language. Today I recognise the importance of translation and I at times am a translator myself. It is funny, though, how those tough feelings on translation led me into learning English and I end up working with translation eventually. It works like some sort of closed loop. And about writing in both languages, I do it separately. Translating ends up being creating all over again, if you think. And I end up creating all over again every time I try to translate anything I wrote in one language into the other. No poem in Treasure Mount Trash works in Portuguese. Believe me, I tried.

TGG: I loved the Accidentalist Manifesto as an attempt to clarify YOUR creative process, but as a manifesto it sets itself up as a call to action. Who is it intended for, and what are the changes you are calling for?

AW: It was a manifesto to myself. It was never intended as a call to any action. I have this thing that I need to explain myself to myself sometimes. An analysis of my levels of consciousness sort of thing. It began with a joke between me and my friend J.P. It took me two hours to write it. It was actually accidental. When I finished writing it, I sent J.P and he mentioned something like ‘you should create a website for it like those untouched weird websites created in 1999.’ The webdesigner within me woke up and I created the website in that week. Someone got offended by it, called me pretentious on Amazon. I ended up taking it down for a while, until I could explain myself better and choose better words. Despite my raw honesty, it wasn’t supposed to become offensive. When I did rework the message, I uploaded it again, stating that it is about MY view. It was not intended to offend anyone. But I am human after all, and I do have controversial opinions about some things. The problem is saying it out loud and being at risk of some faceless person behind a screen calling me off for it. I do not care for virtual misunderstandings. That’s why, from now on, I’m engaging in Artemisia Gentileschi’s ‘leaving the work speak for itself’ protocol.

TGG: Tell me about your favorite food from Brazil, apart from the pomegranate.

AW: Pão de Queijo. My state invented it and it is the only brazilian food I couldn’t live without. It is made of tapioca flour and there’s not much of it in the rest of the world. There’s not much of it in other Brazilian states, to be honest.

TGG: How do you incorporate metalinguistics (the fifth characteristic of the Accidentalist Manifesto) into your poetry?

AW: Well, I feel like everything I’ve ever written is about language itself. Even in the moments I wasn’t specifically talking about language, there was always a linguistic inquiry going on in the background. I teach English and during my classes, I always find something new underneath the most basic elements of the language. I’ve been writing this book, The Genesis of Language, for a long time and it is already about 200 pages long. I simply cannot stop. I had a different muse before. But since I broke up with that muse, Language has been my biggest muse. If I could marry language, I would.

TGG: How do you generally use your leisure time, aside from writing?

AW: I read (mainly philosophy and poetry), play the piano, paint with watercolours. I do all sorts of things, but my main hobby is thinking. I think a lot. I sit in the balcony and think all the time. Specially unsubstantial things that I want to talk about later. But most people come to think I’m just nuts. So, it brought me into becoming a very antissocial and lonely person.

TGG: WTF is an instapoet? I see people often post poems on social media but I do not know if anyone stops to read them. Is it not a bit puritanical/gatekeeperish of us to question this form of ‘publishing’?

AW: I feel like there’s no way to answer this without anyone getting offended, but let’s try. The problem is not the medium. I’m on Instagram. I post my poems, drawings, journal entries there. My favourite contemporary writers are on Instagram. I just don’t see instapoetry as poetry. The light short thoughts in a square with a line sketch. Instapoets seem to aim for some digital influencer kind of fame. And, quoting a friend of mine, some of them are ‘laughing their way to the bank’. It is easy. It is relatable. We live in an emotional messed up civilisation. So, it sells. On the other hand, I understand some of them are using poetry as therapy, to cope with existence. And that’s alright. Depite I believing that existence should be coped with and that poetry shouldn’t be reduced to billboard catchphrases, I shouldn’t project my view onto the other. In the end, everyone used art not to go mad throughout the ages. It was just different. People were more intense and used to dive deeper in their darkness. I think that’s lacking nowadays in every art, in every aspect of life. One’s courage to get in touch with their dark side and befriend it. It is the only path to enlightenment.

TGG: What has been your favorite reading experience in the past year?

AW: The Italian Professor’s Wife by Ann Pedone. I love the strong imagery of her poems. It reminds me of the confessional poetry in the 20th Century. She’s one of my favourite contemporary poets.

TGG: Who are the Parsan sisters?

AW: Their last names was supposed to be Beccler. Thinking of that right now, just feels like I gave pseudonyms to the heteronyms.

The Parsan sisters were supposed to be heteronyms through which I could talk about different subjects. I couldn’t stick to a theme and I love building a whole concept for a book. But when I found out I would have to create a whole identity for each of them and possibly a caricature, I gave up. They’re just the levels of me.

TGG: You say that you write every day! Do you write on the mechanical typewriter of the Prussian Blue tape, or computer, phone, notebook, scratch paper, wallpaper, or elsewhere?

AW: I do write every day, in the sense that I take note of every thought that could potentially become a poem. I often stop anything I’m doing to let that poem write itself as it comes. But, when I’m in the middle of a class, or talking to someone on the phone, I just write a little note and stick it on the desk or the wall. I love writing on mechanical typewriters. I have a couple of them. But my fibromyalgia doesn’t allow me to do that anymore because my fingers and arms hurt. I have some digital typewriters I like to use, though. But I take notes pretty much everywhere. Sometimes I use my phone to record completely unpolished and confused thoughts. I strongly believe the power of the thought that comes unannounced.

TGG: Your profile says that ‘Adora Williams has written over 30 thousand lines of poetry in over 14 years working under heteronyms and artistic personas.’ Is Adora Williams a pseudonym? Could we recognize Adora Williams under another name? Should we just forget it?

AW: It is just a name I found beautiful. My real name doesn’t sound good in English. That’s the only reason for the name Adora Williams. I have those ‘heteronyms’, which are no more than versions of myself. My style ends up not being well outlined. I tried to develop one one style and I had no success. Sometimes it seems different people talking. Which is weird, since I never write something that is not a personal experience. But, when I jump from ethereal colours to feminism in a second, I have to name the different selves within myself. That explains the ‘heteronyms’. They’re the Parsan sisters that didn’t happen, who I don’t mention, but exist for me. So, if I ever show up with any other name, that’s why. Other than that, Adora is me, I didn’t make her up.

TGG: Why do pomegranates fall?

AW: Because they want a definition.