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Decolonial developments: Participatory politics and experimental poetics in Ferreira Gullar’s writing 1957–1975

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-150
Number of pages24
JournalCollege Literature
Issue number1
DateE-pub ahead of print - 9 Jan 2019


This article examines the relationship between radical poetics and politics under the Brazilian dictatorship. It focuses on Ferreira Gullar's poetry from the late 1950s through the mid-1970s, alongside his critical essay, "Avant-Garde and Underdevelopment." This period of the poet's career encapsulates both formally experimental and politically engaged poetry, including concrete and neoconcrete poems, and later, committed lyrics that accompanied the poet's work with the Brazilian Communist Party. While these two periods have been characterized as aesthetically and politically opposed, this essay posits that Gullar's career illuminates an alternative to the long held split between committed and experimental vanguards. It draws on Walter Mignolo and Rolando Vazquez's work on decolonial aestheSis to establish the ways in which Gullar's sense-prizing poetic experiments arise from "the social and cultural characteristics proper to" Brazil that Gullar later describes in "Avant-Garde and Underdevelopment." Rather than antagonistic, Gullar's early experimentalisms and later political commitment can be read as part of a broader decolonial arc within his career that unites the experimental and the engagé through a prolonged, if evolving, poetic investment in participation and experience.



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