My poetry is inspired by my own experiences, by external events, situations, places, people, works of art that capture my attention.
It starts intuitively on this first impact, after which I develop the idea, shape it into a form, and work on that theme for a while. My style of writing is very visual, akin to a short film with a condensed narrative. I enjoy writing in blocks, in a sequence that makes sense to me, like someone who paints of take pictures or explores a particular theme for an intense but short period. It is a kind of temporary obsession allied to a period of research. Perhaps I bring this methodology from my medical background.
As an example, my last book of poems, Suite 136, was inspired by my work as a doctor in psychiatric hospitals in London. My initial impulse started when a colleague was interviewing a man with schizophrenia. This man was extremely sensitive and clever, and he had his own ideas about his disease. He claimed to the consultant that he was an angel, and he claimed his ‘angel’s rights’. He expressed himself beautifully, with a controlled tone, his anger at being in hospital, of feeling powerless.
I was listening very attentively, and his language was the starting point for the first poem of the book. I continued to do that with other situations in my work that impacted me. Most of these patients were detained under the Mental Health Act – often brought to hospital by the police, and assessed in a place called Suite 136, which became the title of the book. It was my way of giving a voice to patients to express their views on their mental health problems, and it became a source of rich and meaningful material. Poetry giving me the opportunity to understand and to enrich the humanistic approach to my work, through a type of fictionalised prose-poetry-documentary.
Now I’m working on a new collection based on gender, fashion and perceptions of femininity. It correlates for me with other reflections, other experiences, and it is a more personal project. Some poems are written in the first person, which is rare in my work. The poems are more minimalist, with blank spaces, pauses, a form that I used ten years ago, but this collection has a different aesthetic. It is a little like revisiting my earlier work but from a closer perspective.
Virna Teixeira was born in Fortaleza, Brazil. She is a poet, translator and a doctor. She lives in London and runs a small press specialized in Brazilian poetry, Carnaval Press. She has published several chapbooks and books of poetry, and her work is published in Brazil, Portugal, Argentine, Mexico, Peru and in the UK. Her last collection of poems, Suite 136, was inspired on her work in psychiatric hospitals in London. Her poetry was recently published in translation in issue 55.1 of Poetry Wales.