Born and raised in Lisbon, Rui Cóias studied law at the University of Coimbra, and then returned to the capital where he worked as a lawyer for nine years before abandoning the profession. He currently studies philosophy at a university in Lisbon.
His first book of poems, A Função do Geógrafo (The Function of the Geographer), was published in 2000, and his second, A Ordem do Mundo (The World’s Order), in 2005; both titles are indicative of this poetry’s concern with landscape – not as something to be meticulously described but as something to be explored, felt, lived. ‘Landscape’ means the places visited or inhabited by the poet – the Azores are the islands referred to in his first book, and the district around Coimbra is mentioned in both books (Ceira, in the poem that begins “Finally you say . . . ”, is a small town not far from Coimbra) – but it also means the historical past, and the poet’s personal past.
Here the distinctions between time and space, and between the personal and impersonal, are blurred. It’s all one vast territory through which the poet journeys, making useful or poignant connections, but without any presumption that he can make the world’s order intelligible. That and other similarly heroic endeavors are impossible (“You’ll never be able to complete / your quest”), which is not, however, a cause for despair. A small, modest happiness is always within our reach, or within our retreat, within us (see the poem ‘What tiny, quivering impulse . . . ’), and we also, more rarely, encounter beauty (‘You’ll never be able to complete’ and ‘He said’). Beauty is what this modern style of classical poetry continually pursues.
A Função do Geógrafo (The Function of the Geographer), Quasi Edições, Vila Nova de Famalicão, 2000
A Ordem do Mundo (The World’s Order), Quasi Edições, Vila Nova de Famalicão, 2005
La Nature de la Vie (The Nature of Life), bilingual edition in French and Portuguese, trans. Marie Claire Vromans, Orfeu, Brussels, 2014
L `Ordre du Monde (The World`s Order), bilingual edition in French and Portuguese, trans. Marie Claire Vromans, L `Harmattan, France, 2015
Europa, Tinta da China, Lisbon, 2016