Ferréz (Reginaldo Ferreira da Silva)

Portrait Ferréz (Reginaldo Ferreira da Silva)
© Ali Ghandtschi

Ferréz, whose real name is Reginaldo Ferreira da Silva, was born in Favela Valo Velho in the southern outskirts of São Paulo in 1975. His pen name pays homage to two Brazilian folk heroes: the well-known Lampião (actually Virgulino Ferreira) from the north east of Brazil and Zumbi, the legendary slave leader. Ferréz started writing poems and raps from the age of seven. Despite having little chance of a decent education, he became familiar with works of literature. After leaving school his jobs included working as a broom-seller, temporary worker and archivist. He has since come to be considered an important literary representative of the Brazilian slum periphery.

His first book »Fortaleza da Desilusão« (1997; t: Power of disappointment ), a collection of concrete poems, was published with the financial backing of his then-employer. Ferréz became well-known with his first novel »Capão Pecado« (2000; t: Capão of sin), described by one Brazilian daily newspaper as »a postcard from the other side of the world« and which today counts as a mile-stone in contemporary Brazilian literature. The book depicts the violent everyday life in the Capão Redondo, the most dangerous favela in São Paulo. It is Ferréz’ intention to juxtapose the image of violence and drugs in favelas as disseminated by the police and the media with the dignity and self confidence of the people living there. His next novel, »Manual Práctico do Ódio« (2003; t: Practical handbook of hatred) tells, in Ferrez’ clear and rhythmic language, the story of a group of young people from this favela planning an assault. These are people who are only able to express their feelings in a way that is absolutely without bounds. The critics called the work, which has appeared in several countries, a »punch in the pit of the stomach«. In the collection of stories entitled »Ninguém é Inocente em São Paulo« (2006; t: In São Paulo nobody is innocent) the author depicts events from the »real São Paulo far from the skyscrapers of the Avenida Paulista«.

Ferréz is also active as a rapper, hip-hop artist and as arts manager of his favela. In 1999 he founded the 1DASUL initiative (One from the south), which promotes cultural projects in the periphery using the profits of shows, readings and sales of T-shirts. From 2000 to 2006 he wrote columns in the monthly magazine »Caros Amigos«. In 2005 he published the children’s book »Amanhecer Esmeralda« (t: Emerald day-break).

In 2001 he was awarded the coveted critics’ prize Prêmio da Associaçao Paulista de Críticos de Arte for the magazine he founded entitled »Literatura Marginal«. Among other accolades, he has been awarded the literary prize Prêmio Hútuz and the Prêmio Cooperifa for his lifetime’s achievement and social commitment. Ferréz lives in the favela Capão Redondo.

© international literature festival berlin