Portuguese American Journal

Nuno Júdice: Most prized Portuguese contemporary poet died – Portugal

Nuno Júdice, one of the most significant figures in contemporary Portuguese literature, known for his contributions as a poet, essayist and literary critic, died at age 74.

Born on April 29, 1949, in Algarve, Portugal, he wrote his first poems when he was eight years old. Influenced by structuralism, he made his literary début in 1972 with the poetry collection A Noção do Poema, followed by over thirty more poetry collections and dissertations. 

He explored various forms of expression, including poetry, fiction, essays, and criticism in literature, art history, philosophy, and geography. In 1993, he published an anthology, first published in French, entitled Voyage dans un siècle de Littérature Portugaise (tr: Voyage through a Century of Portuguese Literature) about twentieth-century Portuguese literature.

His literary career spanned several decades, and his academic work reflects a broad range of interests, from Medieval and Renaissance literature to modernist and contemporary literary trends. He also wrote extensively on Portuguese poets and authors, contributing to the understanding and appreciation of Portuguese literature both within and outside Portugal.

His work has been translated into several languages, including English, (The Religious Mantle, 2020) allowing his poetry to reach a global audience. The bilingual anthology The Cartography of Being: Selected Poems 1967 – 2005, translated by Paulo da Costa, includes fifty-one poems selected from Júdice’s extensive poetic work, presented in Portuguese alongside their English translations.

Often characterized by its depth, intellectual rigor, and the exploration of themes such as memory, history, and the nuances of language and perception, his poetry included experiments with linguistic and stylistic elements, reflections on literature and its interactions with other art forms, and philosophical observations.

As a poet, he grapples with existential themes, such as the passage of time, the nature of reality and illusion, and the search for identity, and is known for his lyrical quality, precise language, and thematic complexity, often delving into the philosophical.

He directed the literary journal Tabacaria, published by the Casa Fernando Pessoa, and translated, among others, Corneille’s and Shakespeare’s plays as well as Emily Dickinson’s poems into Portuguese. In 1994, when Lisbon was the European Capital of Culture, Júdice organized a series of events on European poetry.

He represented Portugal as a cultural attaché in Paris from 1997 to 2004, where he also directed the Instituto Camões. The Portuguese government named him the official delegate to the 1997 Frankfurt Book Fair, which focused on Portugal. For many years, he was the managing editor of  Colóquio-Letras the literary journal of the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian.

In 2013,  Nuno Júdice was interviewed for the Portuguese American Journal, by Millicent Borges Accardi. In the interview Júdice speaks of five decades of writing, his literary references and preferences, the state of the Portuguese letters at home and abroad, of his creative practice.

Nuno Júdice, a professor at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, with a background in Romance Philology, completed his doctorate in Medieval Studies at the Faculty for Social Sciences and Humanities, where he taught French and Portuguese literature as an associate professor until 2015. His writing and distinguished academic career, scholarship, and critical works, contributed significantly to the study of Portuguese literature, particularly in the areas of Medieval and Renaissance literature influencing a generation of poets and writers in Portugal and beyond. His commitment to exploring the boundaries of language and form, combined with his deep literary knowledge, has inspired many emerging writers, playing a direct role in shaping the careers of younger poets and scholars. His enduring impact on Portuguese literature, and his contribution to the broader literary landscape, make him one of the most important Portuguese poets of his generation. His work continues to inspire and challenge, offering profound insights into the human condition, art, and the power of words, a unique voice in Portuguese and global letters.

Carolina Matos, Editor

Prestigious Awards

Nuno Júdice gained international recognition as a testament to the universal themes and innovative techniques present in his writing. His extensive literary works, particularly in poetry, gained him many accolades both in Portugal and internationally, reflecting his stature as a poet of global significance, Some of his most notable awards include:

Pen Club Prize (1985) – This award is given by the Portuguese PEN Club, part of the international association of writers, to recognize outstanding literary works.

Dinis Prize (2016) – Awarded for his poetry, this prize is named after King Dinis of Portugal, who was himself a poet and a patron of the arts.

Queen Sofia Ibero-American Poetry Prize (2013) – One of the most important and prestigious poetry awards in the Ibero-American world, this prize recognized Júdice’s contribution to Ibero-American literature. It is awarded by the National Heritage and the University of Salamanca to a living author who has a significant body of work in the field of poetry written in Spanish or Portuguese.

Association of Writers (APE) Literary Grand Prize (2021) – This prize is awarded by the Portuguese Association of Writers and is one of the most prestigious literary awards in Portugal.

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Nuno Júdice: One of Portugal’s greatest literary treasures – Interview

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