The poet and councilor of Recife for the PCdoB, Cida Pedrosa reached a milestone by becoming the first author from Pernambuco to win the APCA Award – granted by the São Paulo Association of Art Critics. The award has existed since 1956 and is recognized as one of the most influential in the Brazilian cultural scene.
Cida received the honor for her work entitled “Araras Vermelhas” (Published by Companhia das Letras in 2022). The book, elected and selected as the highlight in the Best Poetry Book of 2022 category, is a poem that tells the narrative of the Guerrilha do Araguaia, a movement of resistance to the Military Dictatorship, organized by the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) over the decades 1960s and 1970s. Cida spoke with Brasil de Fato Pernambuco about the award and the power of literature written by northeastern women. Check out:
Brasil de Fato: Cida, you are a poet, but you also have a strong political presence. How do literature and poetry mix in your life?
Cida Pedrosa: I have been a cultural activist since I was very young, since I was 14 years old. I was part of the Pernambuco Independent Writers Movement, which was the movement that took literature out of offices, from what we call Castelo de Ivory, and fought for literature to go to the street, that is, for literature to if it became popular, it reached the people.
So, we used to recite, for example, every Saturday from 10 am in the middle of Rua Sete de Setembro, in a historic moment there in 1979 when the Amnesty had just happened, the political prisoners were leaving prison, there was a whole struggle for redemocratization and we linked this literary exercise to the political exercise. My literary militancy and my political militancy were born together and I usually say that my literature has a social function.
I can’t write for pure dilettantism, if it’s to write just because I think it’s cool, because of ego, because it’s beautiful, I give up, because writing is difficult. Writing is complicated, it’s a hell of a job, writing emotionally drains you. So, I do it because I have the gift, because I believe in the word. But I believe in the word as an instrument of struggle, of exercising being in the world. These things go together for me, there is no longer a separation.
Read: Cida Pedrosa launches ‘Estesia’, a book that makes its debut in the haikai genre
On July 17th, you received the award from the São Paulo Association of Art Critics, the APCA, which is considered one of the most important awards for culture in the country. The award came for your most recent book, Araras Vermelhas, and you are also the first writer from Pernambuco to receive this award. How has the repercussion of this award been?
I have always thought about the awards with the space of representation. And being a woman from Pernambuco, from the Northeast and being the first woman writer to win that for me carries the intention of very great representation, because we know that people in the northeast are doing a cultural struggle against hegemonic, because there is a hegemony right there on the axis Rio-São Paulo at the most, Rio Grande do Sul and Paraná which joins Southeast-South there as if it were the representation of national culture and that’s not it.
So when you go to an award at an association of critics in São Paulo and you win the poetry literature prize, in my mind, I’m occupying a space of representation. Of course this is for me, for my literature. It is very good for my literary career, but in addition to the personal recognition that is very important for the artist, this thing of recognizing that he is representing a region, that he represents women, that this bubble can be broken, this for me is very important .
We talked about politics and literature and your new book, Araras Vermelhas, is precisely about this alliance, isn’t it? Tell us about the book.
I write a long poem on Araras about the Guerrilha do Araguaia, an armed movement of confrontation, of confrontation with the military dictatorship of 1964 that took place there in Belém, in what is today the state of Tocantins and Maranhão, in the region of the Araguaia River. What happens, we had a violent persecution of the dictatorial forces that were in power in 1964 that threw the communists underground. And then many communists who were in hiding decided, under the command of the PCdoB, to go to Araguaia, to start an armed revolution, but the guerrillas were discovered before starting and what happened was a true massacre by the military forces.
And not only did they torture, kill, exterminate, but they also disappeared with 65 PCdoB militants. More than 100 people who were in the guerrillas, apart from the number of peasants and indigenous people who participated, who were arrested, more than a thousand peasants were arrested and tortured and we have no record of this story. My book is about that.
In a long poem I narrate this journey that takes place there in five corners. I always open the corners telling a little of what happened in that year in the world, I place the guerrillas in the world, I take some emblematic guerrillas and warriors, and I do not pay homage, but a poetic political reflection on this that we cannot forget.
In closing, how do you see the issue of valuing literature produced in the Northeast in the face of these nationwide awards?
First, I wanted that regardless of awards, we have a very powerful literature. I’m going to take Pernambuco, let’s take the black women who write in Pernambuco, we have Odailta Alves, Bell Puã, who, for example, when I won the Jabuti Prize, we were together in the very final. I even said, “Whatever you win is worth it, because Pernambuco will be there.” We have Bione rapping, which is a completely innovative thing, we have Fabiana Leite who is a black woman who writes black literature for children, we have a literature of a power… I’m talking about Pernambuco, ok? (laughs) sorry for being a parochial
If you take the Northeast, we have Cidinha in Bahia, we have Jarid Arraes in Fortaleza, we have a woman that I love her writing, who is Calila das Mercês, write down that name. This girl is from Bahia and this year has just assumed the Maria Firmina Chair at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), she and our Conceição Evaristo who assumed the Chair. She studies black women in literature and she has a beautiful new book, so like, we have a lot of women. If we think here of Susana Moraes’s cordel, Mariane Bigio’s cordel, then we are a powerhouse.
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Source: BdF Pernambuco
Editing: Vanessa Gonzaga