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Volume 56 / Humanities

LITERATURE: BRAZIL


Poetry

NAOMI HOKI MONIZ, Associate Professor of Portuguese, Georgetown University


POETRY IN BRAZIL TODAY is distinguished by its diversity and its distance from a clearly identifiable programmatic theory. In 1995, the "Generation of '45" commemorated its 50th anniversary and the neo-vanguardists of the 1950s concretism movement have also left their mark on the Brazilian poetic landscape, but since then poets have been producing works that do not belong to any identifiable "school" or "current." This independence is seen among consecrated poets such as Ferreira Gullar, Mário Faustino, and José Paulo Paes. In contrast to the Centros Populares de Cultura of the 1960s, today's literary manifestoes or its collective desire for a social role for literature does not translate into a trend reconciling and unifying diverse poets engaged in a common poetic voice and vision. In fact, with the return to democracy, marginalized social groups, such as peoples from the Amazon forest, landless peasants of the Northeast, and Afro-Brazilians, are now expressing their own voices both politically and poetically. Others outside the traditional Luso-African-Indian groups, such as the nisei (Brazilian-born descendants of Japanese immigrants) and Lebanese are also translating their unique Brazilian experiences into lyric form.

Among mainstream authors, currently there is a strong desire to work with language and poetry as a craft, paying particular attention to poetics, meter, and even rhyme. For many young Brazilian poets, this desire takes the form of translating well-known Western poets as a training ground, even before publishing their own work. Among the diverse techniques and theories, modernism, concretism, and even some "parnasianisms," formalistic concerns are revisited. The practice of haiku poetry is still popular, as demonstrated by the number of publications of this literary form.

Aside from the groups influenced by "traditional" movements, other active groups include women, Afro-Brazilians, and descendants of immigrants. The celebration of the 300th anniversary of Zumbi's death in 1995 has renewed and reinvigorated the Afro-Brazilian community, and we expect to see further development of Négritude as a significant aesthetic and cultural movement. Finally, the publication of biographies of two of the best-known and most beloved poets in Brazil - Carlos Drummond de Andrade and Vinícius de Moraes - is a sign of an editorial trend favoring this genre, alas, rather than an indication of the popularity of poetry.


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