The Naive Poet-Traveller
by Brian Mendonca , , pp.,
September 2006, volume 30, No 9

I visited Goa shortly after receiving Last Bus to Goa, and sat on the beach under a rain- threatening sky to read: Like a slate of grey The sea stretches To meet the sky. The horizon blurs As the dawn Swollen with rain Douses the sun… (‘Velsao’)

Brian Mendonca’s work occupies the same space in poetry that naïve paintings occupy in art. They are not so much poems as notes with line breaks – yet they have all the charm of naïve paintings. The language and the images are simple, and there is no indication that the poems have been in any way edited since the first draft. In fact, at an early pre-publication reading, I had asked him whether he ever revised any of his works. No, he said, I never revise them, they would lose their freshness if I did. Once done, he said, they are done. While I personally feel that a number of the poems could do with judicious pruning, it is probably true that, as in an oil painting, reworking them might well leave them with a muddy texture. A poem such as ‘May Queen’, with its loving list of the sounds and flavours of Goa is a good example: it would be hard to revise without spoiling the cumulative effect of the detailing of luscious mangoes, a rosary of delights.

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