"It is that tight string tied to your finger and another’s—a loved one, a lost one, or both." (Talia Flores on Saudade)
Talia Flores is a contributor to Half Mystic's second issue, saudade. She is a high school senior from Minnesota. Her work has been recognized by and appears or is forthcoming in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the Texas Book Festival Youth Fiction Contest, National Poetry Quarterly, and Words Dance. She is the founder of her previous high school’s first literary journal, Combustion.Lit, and was a mentee in The Adroit Journal’s 2015 Mentorship Program. She currently works as a reader for Polyphony H.S.
We asked three of our Issue II contributors to share with us their personal definitions of "saudade": how it is formed, where it has been, what it could be. Here is Talia Flores' vision of the drifting photograph – the ache so tender-willing – the shards of bitter-soft yearning just before the fall...
2:30 am and my flashlight is a small orb in the dark. My pencil moves on its own. My two eyes blink bloodshot. The world is completely silent and the inside of my head cannot stop buzzing and I am lonely. Soft piano pours into my ears like mercury. I am aching, but it feels beautiful.
When I first heard the word saudade, courtesy of Half Mystic, I felt an instant connection. Saudade is nostalgia but deeper, melancholy plus more. Saudade is that tight string tied to your finger and another’s - a loved one, a lost one, or both.
At 2:30 am, saudade is my blood pulse. I will sit on the floor of my bedroom and listen to the moon creep across the sky like ink. My poetry is a second language for insomnia, for regret. I do not want to confuse saudade with sadness - a song or an artwork can be sad and not melancholy, and a song or artwork can be sad but not evoke any sense of beauty. A truly saudade piece is soft, gentle, all at once brilliant.
For me, music is therapy and comfort - quiet spirits, things divine. Certain music can conjure the melancholy, and I find it alluring. Swollen notes of acoustic, a soprano’s note plucked from the air. Soft chords. Any song that makes me feel - that laces an ache in my heart, slows my blood a little - is impactful. Music gave me the ability to discover writing and poetry as a way to capture the saudade, recreate a drop of beauty into something I could taste not just with ears, but with eyes too. I would call many of my poems cousins of the saudade - melancholy, nostalgic, and longing.
I do not believe, of course, that saudade, in music and in writing, is the only form of beauty. But saudade-like music was the first music I connected to, and the first poems I penned flowed with nostalgia. Writing and poetry have the ability to be loud, to scream - but my first poems were quiet, interlaced fingers. To feel saudade is to have another dimension under the skin.
Talia Flores' poem "tenuto: pressure", along with more than twenty other pieces by contributors and two columns by the Half Mystic team, are compiled in Half Mystic's Issue II: SAUDADE, a stunning anthology of contemporary art, lyrics, & writing in celebration of music in all its forms. It is available for preorder now.