The Sound of Waters

amassunululucoverfrontwtext-23[1]On the title page of his thin little poetry chapbook called Amassunu (Ampersand Press, 2010), Eric Quinn explains that amassunu “is an Amerindian word meaning “the sound of waters,” and is associated with Brazil’s Amazonas State and the Amazon River.

I would have thought it was an Asian word. I came across his website after he had visited my site and liked it, and I was intrigued by the in-progress translation / adaptation of The Epic of Gilgamish that he is working on. In fact, this collection has an excerpt from that project, and it is indeed superb.

So it goes without saying that I bought the book, and received his warm gratitude for my good words about the site, words whose sentiment I here make public. Poetry books are hard to sell, he laments, even to other poets, so I am happy to play my small part.

Quinn, in fact, “was born in Brazil and spent more than half of his childhood in Latin America and Europe,” I am reading from the author bio opposite the table of contents; and in his adult life, by means at least of his associations and readings, he has continued to cross boundaries into cultures, languages, and a variety of points of view. He presently resides and works somewhere on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard.

Waters of the Amazon

Waters of the Amazon

Anyway, returning to the word amassunu, it makes its appearance in the lovely poem called “the sound of waters,” which goes like this:




lying in bed

i hear you at night

shushing and shurring


the memories emerging two

by two

the toddler, bowling-ball cherub,

pink bow-tied

in my pearly hair,

singing in delight;

baba, baba, baba!


and the rocking horse

reins red, golden mane

riding all afternoon, looking

out at the ocean


i hear you

amassunu, amassunu, amassunu

the place of my dreams, a fish

large as mercy, dagger teeth,

diamond eye –

Yemanja’s gift.



What a beautiful poem! And there are others I could quote from, but I will let it stand at this. Except that I wonder about the implied second part of this poem. And I look forward to reading Quinn’s Gilgamesh volume whenever it is finished. Meanwhile, you can read part of it at his website (


One response to “The Sound of Waters

  1. Brett: thanks again! the review is great, a big gust of wind in my sails, and in the next day or two i will be linking to your site (which is certainly interesting with its latin american authors and posts on translation)…i am toiling away on Gilgamesh tab 4 rewrite and will be done soon…and now i have some impetus to continue the Amassunu fragment…and will be back soon to do some more perusing of this blog… Eric

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