ONLINE CLASS: Fernando Pessoa the Portuguese Poet (2260)

Four Thursdays: June 30, July 7, 14, 21 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET Online

$130.00 per person (10% off for members)

Who Is Fernando Pessoa?

Fernando Pessoa, Portuguese poet, writer in English, French and Portuguese, is perhaps the most curious personality in all of literature. Born In 1888 in Lisbon, he moved to Durban, South Africa as a boy before returning to Lisbon in 1905. He then spent the rest of his days on Earth in that port city on the Iberian edge of Europe. There he wrote obsessively leaving 25,000 pieces of writing in a trunk--a lot of it typed, mimeographed, some written in longhand. During his lifetime he published only one book of 44 poems. He invented hundreds of alter-egos, personalities with distinct biographies and passions. He called some of them heteronyms. Three stand out: Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis and Alvaros Campos. Along with Fernando Pessoa, the original, these “four poets” jostle for places in the pantheon of literature written in Portuguese.

We will dive into poems by the “four poets” seeking to identify clues about the personality, passions, goals, spiritual needs and quest of their creator who is known today as an essential stop on the reading tour for all interested in the wonders of world literature.

We will read Pessoa in English but will also read one of the heteronyms, Alberto Caeiro, in a bilingual edition, thereby giving us a chance to discuss the translator's choices in bringing Pessoa into contemporary English.

We will seek to understand the elusive Pessoa: We will ask lots of questions. Why did he invent the heteornyms? What literary advantages do these personalities or characters give their author? What were Pessoa's prinicpal passions? Did he have a lover? What can we take from him into our writing practice? Our own reading of ourselves and of the world?

Fernando Pessoa wrote: “What I am essentially—behind the involuntary masks of poet, logical reasoner and so forth—is a dramatist. My spontaneous tendency to explain the existence of my heteronyms, naturally leads to this definition. And so I do not evolve, I simply JOURNEY...I continuously change personality, I keep enlarging ( and here there is a kind of evolution) my capacity to create new characters, new forms of pretending that I understand the world or, more accurately, that the world can be understood.”

Let us understand the world through our search for Fernando Pessoa. Four Thursdays: June 30, July 7, 14, 21 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET Online

Books Required:

Fernando Pessoa: A Little Larger Than The Entire Universe, Selected Poems (9780143039556)

The Complete Works of Alberto Caeiro (9780811227803)


Pessoa by Richard Zenith ( A biography) (9780871404718)

Reading Schedule

We will read selections from Fernando Pessoa: A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe, Selected Poems; and The Complete Works of Alberto Caeiro. We will learn more about the labyrinth that is Pessoa, identifying paths to get to the exit, to escape into the light ( of understanding, of truth, of illumination).

Week 1: Poems of Alberto Caeiro

Week 2: Poems of Ricardo Reis

Week 3: Poems of Fernando Pessoa

Week 4: Poems of Alvaro de Campos and review of all “four poets.”

Indran Amirthanayagam is an American diplomat, poetry publisher with Sara Cahill Marron at Beltway Editions(; editor of The Beltway Poetry Quarterly ( and director of The Poetry Channel on Youtube. ( He writes poetry in English, French, Spanish, Haitian Creole and Portuguese. He has published twenty two books, including Ten Thousand Steps Against the Tyrant, Blue Window (Ventana Azul), The Migrant States and Uncivil War.

REFUND POLICY: Please note that we can issue class refunds up until seven (7) days before the first class session.

SKU: 9787000010345
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Pessoa: A Biography Cover Image
ISBN: 9780871404718
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Liveright - July 20th, 2021

A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe: Selected Poems Cover Image
By Fernando Pessoa, RICHARD Zenith (Editor), RICHARD Zenith (Translated by), RICHARD Zenith (Introduction by), RICHARD Zenith (Notes by)
ISBN: 9780143039556
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Penguin Classics - April 4th, 2006

The Complete Works of Alberto Caeiro: Bilingual edition Cover Image
By Fernando Pessoa, Margaret Jull Costa (Translated by), Patricio Ferrari (Translated by), Jerónimo Pizarro (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780811227803
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: New Directions - July 28th, 2020