Ferreira Gullar

Poetic sound work III

Obra sonora poética, Parte III

Ricardo Aleixo performing Música para modelos vivos movidos a moedas," 2010.
Ricardo Aleixo performing "Música para modelos vivos movidos a moedas," 2010. Photo by Paulo Filho.

This is Part III of a four-part essay that appears in Portuguese in Deslocamentos Críticos (Lisbon: Babel; São Paulo, Itaú Cultural, 2011) under the title "Obra Sonora Poética: 1980-2010." Read Part I here and Part II here.

Brazilian Poetic Sound Work: 1980-2010

III.

“Barulho”’s suggestion of the physicality of poetry through both its sound and sense resonates anew in the “cross-platform” work of Ricardo Aleixo.[11] In Gullar, sound functions within Poundian melopoeia, plucking noises, rhythm, and melodies out of printed words via poetic devices including rhyme, assonance, and alliteration (even as it reaches to involve the body of the reader through the idea of breath). Aleixo’s poetry combines these devices with sonic devices in means and media beyond the realm of the printed page. His most important medium may be his own performing body and voice. Through performance, he actualizes the movement, voice, lyric self, and voice-body-sound relationship that Gullar’s poem evokes.

Poetic sound work II

Obra sonora poética, Parte II

Ferreira Gullar at home. Photo by Tomás Rangel.
Ferreira Gullar at home. Photo by Tomás Rangel.

This is Part II of a four-part essay that appears in Portuguese in Deslocamentos Críticos (Lisbon: Babel; São Paulo, Itaú Cultural, 2011) under the title "Obra Sonora Poética: 1980-2010." Read Part I here.

Brazilian Poetic Sound Work: 1980-2010

II.

Ferreira Gullar’s major poetic work has an interesting sonic history. Gullar spent much of the 1970s in exile (1971-77) from Brazil and its dictatorship. While living in Buenos Aires, he wrote the long poem, Poema Sujo, from May to October of 1975. In order to get the poem to Brazil without attracting the attention of the dictatorship, Gullar recorded it on a cassette, which his friend Vinicius de Moraes carried back. In Rio de Janeiro, Vinicius and others held house gatherings to play the recording and share the poem, which was eventually transcribed and published in 1976. It was an early moment in Brazil when new audio technology became a means of disseminating poetry. And in a time of violent repression, it also became a medium for poetry’s potential to give people a sense of freedom through art and communal solidarity.

Poetic sound work, 1980-2010

Obra sonora poética, 1980-2010

Ricardo Aleixo in São João del Rei, Minas Gerais, 2010. Photo by Paulo Filho.
Ricardo Aleixo in São João del Rei, Minas Gerais, 2010. Photo by Paulo Filho.

Last year, I wrote an essay on sound in contemporary Brazilian poetry that was published in Portuguese in Deslocamentos Críticos (Lisbon: Babel; São Paulo, Itaú Cultural, 2011). I am glad to share the English version of the essay here over the next several posts. My great thanks to Rumos Literatura do Itaú Cultural, the literary criticism program of Itaú Cultural, for their support of this research.

Brazilian Poetic Sound Work: 1980-2010

I.

In the course of performing Um Ano Entre Os Humanos, poet Ricardo Aleixo (b. 1960) recites and sings.1 He plays guitar and bits of hardware. He dj’s from a laptop. Some of these sounds are scripted; others, improvised. All complement the visual aspects of the performance, which include video, a simple set of a chair and table holding just the laptop, a microphone, and percussion instruments, and Aleixo and his co-performer’s both choreographed and spontaneous movements. Sound contrasts, however, with the piece’s most striking visual symbol: the poemanto, a large black cloth emblazoned with white letters that Aleixo wraps himself in and animates for part of the performance, and that appears in a video that plays for part of the piece.

Syndicate content