José Paulo Paes



Comment on the book “Um Por Todos – Poesia Reunida”, by José Paulo Paes

Gathering 152 poems, One for All – Collected Poetry, by José Paulo Paes (1926-1998), is a selection of his production between 1947 and 1983 and distributed in 8 books: The student (1947) accomplices (1951) New Chilean Letters (1954) Epigrams (1958) anatomies (1967) half word (1973) Residue (1980) and Puzzled Calendar (1983). The layout of the poems, however, obeys the reversed chronological order, that is, it goes from Puzzled Calendar a The student, preceded by “The Book of the Alchemist”, an excellent presentation by Alfredo Bosi.

Irony, humor and conciseness: these are, in quick strokes, the main characteristics of José Paulo's agitated verses, which are accentuated from the New Chilean Letters. From his first book, two beautiful poems deserve to be highlighted, “Muriliana“ (I cut the city, the machines and the dream / From the newsboy trapped in the twilight / I keep the loved ones in my coat pocket…) and “The Student“ (… Drummond always lends me his mustache / With Neruda, my poor verse explodes / And the butterflies dance in my pocket), while in accomplices one reads the significant epigraph by DH Lawrence: “Love is not a goal. It is only a traveling".

His two books published in the 1950s contain essentially political poetry. In the New Chilean Letters, as Bosi points out, the author thickens “the Oswaldian and Murilian vein that comes from Modernism”, showing “the reverse side of the chronicle of origins”. The history of the colonizers is rewritten with an eye open to the vexations suffered by the colonized.

See, for example, “O Calendar”, where the dates in which the voice of the people was heard most strongly are present and the nobility of the defeated comes to the fore: 1684 (Bequimão), 1720 (Felipe dos Santos), 1817 (Frei Miquelino), 1839 (Garibaldi) and 1848 (Pedro Ivo). Continuing on, there is “A Mão-de-Obra” (They are good-looking and fine-looking / And soon they know what they are being taught / But they have the serious defect of being free). “L'Affaire Sardinha” (The bishop taught the bugre / That bread is not bread, but God / Present in the Eucharist / And as one day it ran out / Bread to the bugre, he ate / The bishop eucharistically), “The Nativists”, “ The Testament", "Palmares", "The Inconfidentes", "The Scream" etc, concluding with "The Lieutenants" and "Because I'm proud".

Em Epigrams, according to Bosi, “the degree of artistic elaboration rises at the same time that the critical message reaches a universal horizon”. Examples of this are “To Uns Politicians”, “Bucolica” (The landless peasant / They hold the chance / And think of crops / That will never be theirs), “Ivan Ilitch, 1958” and “A Clausewitz” (The Field Marshal / A universe dreams / No peace or hemorrhoids).

anatomies (1967) shows us the poet attracted by the neofuturist proposals of the visual text, incorporating the graphic resources to the brief poem and choosing the common pun of his usual procedures. See as significant examples “Pavloviana”, “Kipling Revisited”, “Occidental” (the mass / the miss / the missile), “The German Miracle” (volkswarren / volkswagner / volkswagen), “A Moda da Casa” (feijoada / marmalade / goelada / barracks), “Chronology” (AC / DC / WC) and “The Suicide or Reverse Descartes” (cogito / ergo / pum!).

Em Half Word – civic, erotic and metaphysical and Residue, some features of concrete poetry persist, the typographic scheme and the use of photos and puns being relevant. From the 1973 book see, for example, “Camassutra”, “Olímpica”, “Minicantiga D'Amigo” and “Metassoneto or the Irritated Computer”. On the other hand, the poems of Residue (1980) are mostly more concise and humorous: “Civic Reminder“ (public man / public woman); “The Liberator“ (frei id / freiid / Freud); “The Evolution of Styles” (baroque / barococo / rococo); “Toast on Mother’s Day!” (Act!); “An American Dream” (CIA unlimited); “Les Mains Sales” (get to work!) and “Ode to Sleep” (without the little death / of the whole night / how to survive life / of every day?).

The volume ends with the 21 poems of Puzzled Calendar, ending in 1983 and which was still unpublished. For Bosi, the Calendar it is “a game set around time, to kill it or revive it”. Thus, “Revolutionary Doubt“ (was yesterday today? / or is today yesterday?) refers to March 31 –1o/April; on April 19th we have the “Indian Day” (the day of those who have / their days numbered); 1o May is represented by “Etymology“ (in the sweat of the brow / the taste / of our daily bread / salt / salary); on Valentine's Day we have “A real festa” (but why bonfire / rojão / how much? / just the fire in the veins / and the darkness / heart), while on December 25th “Time is Money” appears (he was born… no hear the rooster? / let's run and crucify him!).

José Paulo Paes' poetry books remained virtually unknown to the public, since print runs were always limited and paid for by the author. the edition of One for all notices, albeit belatedly, this almost unprecedented nature of a poet greater than José Paulo is.

*Afranio Catani is a retired professor at USP, visiting professor at UFF and one of the organizers of the Bourdieu vocabulary (Authentic).

Originally posted on extinct Jornal da Tarde in 19 / 4 / 1986.


Jose Paulo Paes. One for All – Collected Poetry. São Paulo, Brasiliense, 1986.


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