Ferreira Gullar

Ferreira Gullar

A poet, writer, and artist, Ferreira Gullar (b. 1930), the pen name of José Ribamar Ferreira, is the central figure of the Brazilian poetry movement the Neo-Concretes. Exiled by the Brazilian government from 1964 to 1985, Gullar worried that he’d meet the gruesome fate of so many other exiled writers and this fear inspired him to write his best-known work, Poema Sujo, or Dirty Poem. The poem spans one hundred pages and was written to be a sort of last will and testament. Gullar is considered one of the most influential Brazilians and Latin American writers of the twentieth century. Form and diction play significant roles in Gullar’s writing which is often peppered with memorable imagery and lyric verses. Gullar was awarded the Jabuti prize in 2007 and was elected as a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters in October 2014. He currently lives and writes in Rio de Janeiro.

Dirty Poem

Poetry by Ferreira Gullar

Translated by Leland Guyer

Dirty Poem was written in 1975 in Buenos Aires when Ferreira Gullar was in political exile from the Brazilian dictatorship. An epic work, it draws on the poet’s memories of his seaside adolescence during World War II and deals openly with the “dirty” shamefulness of a socioeconomic system that abuses its citizens with poverty, sexism, greed, and fear. The scholar Otto Maria Carpeaux wrote: “Dirty Poem deserves to be called ‘National Poem’ because it embodies all of the experiences, victories, defeats, and hopes in the life of the Brazilian citizen.…
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One of the region’s most important poets.

Art Forum

In fine translation from the Portuguese, Leland Guyer captures the richness of language of Gullar’s poetry–from local idioms to the language of displacement.

—Bruna Dantas Lobato, Asymptote Journal

I am a fervent admirer of Ferreira Gullar’s scandalously beautiful Dirty Poem. It makes me feel like a child before a tropical forest or a soaring monument.

—Clarice Lispector
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