Teresa Melo

- Portugal -

Teresa Melo (1991) is a Portuguese poet and writer. She has a degree in Political Science and International Relations (FCSH-UNL), a MA in Sciences of Communication (FCSH-UNL) and a MA in Women's Studies (FCSH-UNL). Her current research is situated within feminist theories on contemporary art, focusing on visual practices informed by and committed to ethics of care and reproductive justice. 


Melo’s first poetry book As abelhas não dançam bachatas (Cas’a Edições) was published in Brazil in 2021. It carries a strong tone on the poetics of bodies andsexualities. She is also the author of fiction short stories including Fish Gold (Cupim, 2022); Chronicle of Santa Teresa (Subversa, 2021) and the visual art work The Witch and the Fruits (Laboratório d’Estórias). In 2022 she wrote the essay Free Love: Notes for sexual emancipation and social transformation. Alexandra Kollontai's new sexual morality (in Por uma História com Mulheres2022). The writer is currently based in Lisbon.



Teresa Melo, writer, born in 1991, has a degree in political science and international relations; her current work leans on the study of feminist theories in disputes for spaces and languages by means of visual arts and poetry. Melo is the author of As abelhas não dançam bachatas (Cas’a Edições, 2021), several texts and essays published in the field.

From her poetry writing, we propose a brief reading from the work it embodies:



what an ambiguous way this is

hidden pleasure of vice

not knowing if you exist or if you happen to me. 

(MELO, 2021, p.29)


The ambiguity of a section in something dense: the poetry. A section that acknowledges the real which is not contained by it but addresses it, a section that acknowledges and celebrates itself. Poem, the scar that sings, the hiss of a lost insect, the nostalgia of a time when time was slowness. Extended slow time, the exaltation between what exists and what happens that collides in the intensity of a self, skewed pronoun: “me” in which we could recognize a singular poetic voice that sings the ambiguity of life. And if “whoever builds a poem builds their signature, their address, their testimony” (LOPES, 2019, p.169) we can recognize, in this poetry, the acknowledgement of a language that exists and happens within a noun, naming them as word and body, like the unsettled doubt in which the poetic self beholds: the fortune of “not knowing”.


Word and body that come together amid the issues to which Teresa Melo addresses as a researcher: “the comprehension of every array of experiences of desire through the sexual act that may lead to inner growth. […] Besides the organic stimulations, could a union lead to the alteration of emotional systems, as well as systems of thought” (MELO, 2022, p.118); and of writing, we could add, having studied the author’s poems and short stories. Thus, this poetry would enact its ethics, its way of witnessing and transforming, which is something a poem strives to (LOPES, 2019, p.171), by means of approaching sensibility, a woman’s body and her thought, all expressed in a “poetry [that] isn’t deaf” (MELO, 2021, p.29) to the calls that come to her.


Poetry bounds to write what it listens: “inside and outside of me, words wither, exaltation remains slow.” (p.13). Standing before the euphoria of a raging world, the voice of Teresa Melo suggests the articulation of words in which through poetics weaken the intents of a power-based languages that violates body, landscapes, thoughts. An exaltation that remains slow “because homeostasis is necessary for the skins to know each other” (p.23). Knowledge, one of the words for sexuality and erotism, words censored to women along with the censorship of their bodies (CIXOUS, 2022, p.51), a space to exist and happen in these verses, “a heart enraptured in sweat” in whose center is the hiss of a girl metamorphosed into an insect:


It didn’t take long for her to feel that she was no longer the same creature. The tiny eyes were not ready yet to discover the altered body, but she could feel very well the unusual weightlessness and elasticity. The waist was thinner than a clothing pin and two pairs of wings created the suspension of the body. At the top of the head, she had two strong antennae like spiky hair. The voice was more hissed. She did not see herself in the mirror, but she knew this devilish-imp was the core of her desire.


One day, I went by the riverside to the woods. The tepid mist painted the landscape. I asked for the girl. “She ran way in a gust of wind!”, “she went mad because she foiled destiny!”. The truth is that no one saw her again, but under the fig tree her hiss is still heard (MELO, 2018, [s/d]).


Whether bee or butterfly (MELO, 2021, p.7), the body told by Teresa Melo is that of a woman in its unique pleasure summoned to fight, answering to what appeals to her, because “feminism is not a humanism. Feminism is an animalism. In other words, animalism is a dilated feminism and not an anthropocentrism” (PRECIADO, 2020, p.132). And this is the same poetic body that sings: “and two undecided hands/ climbing through the words of the body” (MELO, 2021, p.39) because I soon learnt to speak with the pulps of my fingers” (p. 53) to have pleasure with the words that sprout from them:


the organic support of silence

holds the memory of the parts

and I mean the fingertips 

that like roots

invent words anew (p.41)


Poetry made with the edge of limbs, in which the materiality of skin, muscles and sinews, the matters of the body, will witness the geometry in which poetry exists and happens, beyond and beneath the self, in the feminine word that is more body than word (CASTELLO BRANCO, 1991, p.76) and word-matter of poetry. Body and word sisterly connected to the writings of Maria Teresa Horta, one of the notable presences in the voice of the homonymous author: “Saying about the body/ the body of poetry// The shoulders/ the breasts/ the belly that kidnaps [...] Thinking about the body/ the body of poetry// More fingers than hands [...]” (HORTA, 2003, p.125-126).


Poem that says, thinks and writes body and poetry, the erotism of an uncomfortable love letter: from this sleep I see her body in harp. the grapefruit-stromb lips, the talking hands, her gaze asking me for water. dressed in paleness, ribbed syllables, she carries sunflower stamens tied to her waist. her head is crowned with the moon. in the air she touches and disturbs the enormous sky to embroider it with green.” (MELO, 2021, p.49). This syllable’s rib without the hierarchy of the capital letters in which the teeth attempt to hold, in which the blow won’t allow for it is nerve and air, witnesses the desired poetic: a body asleep, exalted in harp, singing instrument, hands that speak as much, or even more, than the tongue, tongue that dresses in paleness near the disturbance of nature. The pleasure of language embroidering the geometry of an exalted and slow body.


Essay by Jonas Samudio

Translation and adaptation by Pedro Melo Rocha