Note from BW of Brazil: Yet another black Brazilian woman making her mark, this time in the world of poetry which, as we have seen, has a strong presence of black authors. Afro-Brazilian women remain so under-represented in so many areas but they are not allowing this lack of exposure impede them from sharing their talents with the world. Luz Ribeiro mowed down the best slam poets from all over Brazil and will represent Brazil in France in the world championships! It would be great to see her win the title, but even if she comes in second, third, tenth or fiftieth place, she is STILL a winner! Congratulations Luz!!
Competing is part of the life of the black woman, says national champion of poetry
Courtesy of Agência Patrícia Galvão and R7
‘Black, fat and bisexual’, feminist Luz Ribeiro is the first woman to win the Slam BR. Event brings together the best street poets in Brazil with winner earning a place in world championship in France.
At age 28, the “black, fat and bisexual”, as she defines herself in a tone of resistance, Luz Ribeiro was chosen the best poet in Brazil. On Sunday, December 18th, Luz won the Slam BR, a tournament that annually gathers the country’s best street poets. It was the first victory of a woman in the history of the competition.
Like every young woman on the periphery, competing and fighting is already part of her routine. “We black women of the periphery have competed all their lives, trying to reaffirm our beauty, competing for vacancies that are denied us,” she explained. “So when I heard that I won, there a film of all the ‘nos’ that passed (through my mind). Of all the closed doors and at the same time that great yes. Feeling that I could do anything,” she added (the poet’s texts are on her Facebook page).
With the presentation of actress Roberta Estrela D’alva, this year’s Slam BR was divided into four days of competition, from December 15 to 18, at Itaú Cultural, on Avenida Paulista, in the central region of São Paulo. This year, the Brazilian championship of spoken poetry had representatives from 29 slams, being: 17 from São Paulo, four from Rio de Janeiro, four from Minas Gerais, two from Brasília and two from Bahia. With the victory, Luz was classified for the Copa do Mundo de Slam de Poesias (Slam World Cup of Poetry) in France.
On her place the international competition, she’s not modest: “I think if I were just to enjoy the ride, these things wouldn’t be fair, because there are people who experience the slam and dream of this opportunity, as I dreamed for a long time.” “Being honest, I want to win yes. I want to go and develop my best,” she says.
Born in the neighborhood of Jardim Souza, in the extreme south zone of São Paulo, daughter of a father from (the state of) Minas Gerais and a mother from Bahia, Luz (whose name is Luciana) studied all her life in a public school where she suffered from racism and exclusion (“I was very much bullied in school. I had no friends,” she says), and struggled to construct her life in the state capital. To deal with prejudice, she began to write short texts and verses about her daily life, which she later burned to feel better.
It was only at the end of 2011 that Luz began to visit community soirees, where for the first time she saw people writing about a reality like hers, of the periphery, different from what she read of renowned authors of Brazilian literature. “I confronted this reality of marginal poetry and saw that it was totally related to what I wanted to do,” she recalls.
From there, Luz became a regular figure in the soirees of São Paulo and soon decided to learn the practice that combined poetry and competition: the slams. “I was in the Minor World Slam, which has poetry of up to 10 seconds, and I already came to win. I didn’t write great things. So I went to Guilhermina’s Slam [which occurs in front of the Guilhermina train station in the East Zone] and I was battling directly and not just a phase,” she says.
Luz is also an actress and created, in 2012, the Sóis de Teatro Company together with the actor Lucas Carvalho. “I am under construction, eternal! I allow myself to change, because to impede is foolishness. Mediocrity doesn’t fit me, no more!” says a passage from Luz Ribeiro’s poem.
Militancy and growth in the slams
His first texts in the competitions had romantic incidents. And afterward the exchange of experiences with women in working groups left her poems engaging.
“I discovered several pains that they had that I also had, and there I made a text with a little more revolt,” she jokes. With it and other texts focused on social consciousness, Luz began to win more slams. “I cried too much,” she recalls.
In 2013, when Slam BR was still called Slam SP and restricted to the state of São Paulo, Luz came close to qualifying for the tournament, but ended up without a place by only 0.1 in the final score.
Frustrated and seeking to overcome the defeat, she put some money together and traveled to France. She didn’t want to tie a future victory to the award trip. “I did it because I don’t want to give put that kind of weight, of a trip, to poetry, something that saved my life,” she says.
On her return home, she resumed the competition and first secured a place for a regional final at the Slam da Roça in Franco da Rocha in the state of São Paulo. In the final, the victory and the place in the nationals redeemed the poet’s desire to win, not deviating from more texts of “revolt” in the dispute: she openly discussed feminism, sexual freedom and racial inequality in her rhymes.
“For any woman militant, engaged in art, it is essential to do things that go against social conventions. Fight for a way that others feel less alone and more represented. And us too,” Luz says. “The sarau and slam are tools for us to get to know each other and create others of us. Pluralizing,” she concludes.
In 2013, Luz Ribeiro released her first book Eterno Contínuo, by Selo do Burro. She is also the founder of the Slam do Treze: Batalha de Poesias Faladas (Slam of Thirteen: Battle of Spoken Poetry), which takes place in the Santo Amaro Terminal, with the poet Thiago Peixoto, every last Monday of the month.