22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Paulo Henriques Britto

Portrait Paulo Henriques Britto
© Hartwig Klappert

Paulo Henriques Britto was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1951. He began studying Film at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1972 and moved back to Rio de Janeiro the following year to study Linguistics. Passionate about the rock legends Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison, Britto began translating poetry and pop lyrics as a student in the USA. He has translated work by Byron, Wallace Stevens, Elizabeth Bishop, and Thomas Pynchon, among many others, and is now one of Brazil’s most distinguished translators. Britto teaches Literature, Literary Translation and Creative Writing at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica (PUC) in Rio de Janeiro.
The author’s literary work is in the tradition of Emily Dickinson. When he began to write in the seventies, Britto found the literary scene in Brazil in a state of polarisation: »You opted for either Chico Buarque or Caetano Veloso. I always liked both. That was a problem.« Britto has also a fondness for metalanguage, methodology and rigorous literary forms and this links him to concrete poetry, while staying close to the »Generation Mimeography« (Geração Mimeógrafo) where content is concerned. This generation of writers advocated literary spontaneity and the use of slang as a way of emphasising everyday life as a theme. Similar to the »Beat Generation«, it is marked by the rock music of the sixties and seventies, above all, though, by the Brazilian »música popular« and its representatives, such as Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil.
Britto, who writes at most four to six poems a year, published his first collection of poems, »Liturgia da matéria« (1982; t: Liturgy of matter), in 1982. After that came »Mínima lírica« (1989; t: Minimal Lyricism), »Trovar claro« (1997; t: Composing in clarity), and the volume »Macau« (2003), for which the author received the Prêmio Portugal Telecom de Literatura Brasileira in 2004. The idea of Macau – the former Portuguese colony in China – stands metaphorically for Britto’s own art and existential situation. The book has made him a cult poet in Brazil. After a thirty-year gestation period, the author published his first volume of short stories, »Paraísos artificiais« (2004; t: Artificial Paradises), for which he was nominated for the Prêmio Jabuti in 2005. Britto lives in Rio de Janeiro.

© internationales literaturfestival berlin


Liturgia da matéria
Civilização Brasileira
Rio de Janeiro, 1982

Mínima lírica
Livraria Duas Cidades
Sao Paulo, 1989

Trovar claro
Companhia das Letras
Sao Paulo, 1997

Companhia das Letras
Sao Paulo, 2003

Paraísos artificiais
Companhia das Letras
Sao Paulo, 2004

Companhia das Letras
Sao Paulo, 2007

The Clean Shirt of It
Rochester, NY, 2007
[T: Idra Novey]