PORTO BY Sérgio Almeida

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Porto By

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Livraria Lello

Born in Luanda, he has been a journalist since he was 18 years old. He has worked in “Jornal de Notícias”, in the section for culture, since 1998, with a special focus on literature. As an author, he published the books “Análise epistemológica da treta”, “Armai-vos uns aos outros”, “Não conto”, “Como ficar louco e gostar disso”, “Ob-dejectos” and “O elefante que não sabia voar”. He participated in the anthologies “Fora de jogo”, “Luvina” (Mexico) and “O livro do São João”. He is published in Brazil. Member of the group of poetic performances “Sindicato do Credo”, he is still cultural promoter. Since 2011, he moderates the cycle of conversations with writers “Porto de Encontro”.

My favourite location is…
I like viewpoints – they give us the illusory sensation of covering everything at one glance – and in Porto there are so many to choose from! Serra do Pilar and the gardens of Palácio de Cristal have fantastic viewpoints, but I feel a special affection for the ones at Vitória and Igreja dos Grilos for being more than simple picture postcards. Like a character from a tale I wrote years ago, titled “O turistador” (“The Touristor”), I like to lose myself to find myself. Therefore, I make a point of regularly being a flâneur in the area of the Sé Cathedral, knowing in advance that I will eventually lose myself. Which is not difficult, with the winding streets (unfortunately, less and less lugubrious and more marked) and my, at least, doubtful sense of direction.

People from Porto are…
Of unparalleled generosity. I am an enthusiast of this growing cosmopolitanism of Porto, but I am afraid that the growing weight of tourism in the life of the city will somehow put at risk that authenticity so characteristic of the people from Porto.

A defining story…
As a rule, I do not geographically situate my stories. I prefer to place them in a space to be defined somewhere between Queluz de Baixo and Kathmandu. I made an exception a few years ago when I was invited to participate in a anthology of short stories about São João. The story was called “Um trio de Odemira” (“A Trio from Odemira”) and began in a somewhat provocative way: “Of all the ugly and dirty streets of Porto, Rua do Bonjardim is certainly the most ugly and dirty. And see that it doesn’t lack competition…” I have nothing against the street in question, I even pass through there every day… Simply, the speech belonged to a character of the story, a not so nice old man who went on a trip to celebrate St. John’s Day in Porto. Still, who wasn’t happy was the owner of my coffeeshop of choice, born and raised in Rua do Bonjardim. As if that were not enough, he tried to make me promise, on pain of not serving me the delicious “francesinhas” he made, that, in a future second edition, I would replace his beloved street with Rua do Almada, which he always, for some reason, saw as an enemy. I accepted, of course. What is a short story compared to a “francesinha”?

Culture in Porto is…
An unerasable trait of the city and the people who make it. It is not by chance that, in periods of lesser glow, as happened in post-“Porto 2001”, there is a kind of civic uprising that represents, first and foremost, a lesson of dignity to all who wanted to diminish it. Call it “spirit of resistance” or something else, but the truly remarkable and original Porto culture is the anti-institutional one, which makes creativity its greatest strength and often mocks power.