DISQUIET is dedicated to the memory of Portuguese poet Alberto de Lacerda and each year includes a special tribute to him. We consider two of his most deeply held values to be important aspirations for the character of DISQUIET.
Alberto lived in Mozambique, London, Austin, and Boston. With friends all over the world, he was a man and a poet who spanned continents and cultures, both of which served as the inspiration for his life and work. Alberto also had a unique vision of artistic merit. For him, good work was good work whether it was written in someone’s sprawling hand or printed in a leather-bound book. He believed art should be judged on its own terms, not upon the value a given culture assigns to it. Whether someone had published a lot or not at all was of no real concern to him. Of course, Alberto didn’t disparage publishing, but he did believe that concentrating solely upon publishing as a measure of worth, either of an individual or of his work, was dangerous.
Alberto was born on September 20, 1928 on the island of Mozambique to a colonial Portuguese family. At the age of 18, he arrived in Lisbon and promptly had his first book of poems accepted by Fernando Pessoa’s publisher. A few years later, he left Portugal for London, where he made immediate inroads in London’s literary crowd. Edith Sitwell was one of his greatest friends, and he was admired by such luminaries as T.S. Eliot, Evelyn Waugh, Jean Cocteau, and Arthur Waley, who translated 77 Poems, Alberto’s first book of poems to appear in English. During this period, Alberto worked mainly as a broadcaster for the BBC. In the late sixties, Alberto took a job at The University of Texas at Austin, and later, at Boston University, where he was an inspirational teacher. All of his life, he wrote poetry, founded journals, and wrote art criticism. He also amassed an art collection of over 1,000 works, which is slowly being shown in different venues in Portugal, England, and the United States. He died in London on the 27th of August, 2007 just a few weeks shy of his eightieth birthday.