Note from BW of Brazil: The invisibility of black women in the literary field, both as protagonists and as authors, is obvious for anyone who has given the topic any thought. And arguably, if left to Brazilians who control the literary field, this absence will continue. As such, in the same manner that black Brazilians have taken the initiative to advance their own causes in the areas of theater, advertising, aesthetic contests and film, they must do the same if they want to see their work recognized in the literary world. And according recent events, this is exactly what they are doing!
In independent literary production black women find the opportunity to overcome invisibility
Débora Garcia, Jennyffer Nascimento and Raquel Almeida circulate through the city of São Paulo, especially in evenings in the suburbs, sharing their experiences and literature.
By Simone Freire
Women’s literature has always found greater difficulty in entering the publishing market. From a perspective, the participation of black women is even more overshadowed when compared to the production of white women. Within an effervescent scene, black women writers seek in independent production the opportunity to have a voice and re-tell their stories.
In São Paulo, Débora Garcia, Jennyffer Nascimento and Raquel Almeida are in this process and circulate through the city, especially in evenings in the suburbs, sharing their experiences in literature and recently released books.
The Itaquera district in the East Zone, Débora Garcia released the book Coroações (Coronations), late last year. Within months, she visited more than 30 spaces and sold about 600 copies of a printing of thousand. For her, society still sees black writers in general, with great strangeness, while the music, dance and food are better absorbed.
“In my view, this estrangement, this refusal, mainly due to the fact that black literature distances itself from the entertainment literature. Black literature has a social function of giving a turn and voice to black issues in Brazil. But we continue producing, and this is very important. Every day more blacks are writing, publishing, producing knowledge and this in itself is already a cause for celebration,” she says.
In the first person
A study coordinated by Professor Regina Dalcastagnè of the University of Brasilia (UNB), based on the analysis of 258 books published from 1990 to 2004, records the presence of 79.8% of white characters. Being protagonist in the production of writing then becomes a way to resist this historical process of invisibility, either as character or author, and reframes the social roles of women beyond housework.
Without ignoring the writing of important authors such as Manoel de Barros, Mia Couto, Charles Bukowski, Marcelino Freire, Solano Trindade, Jenyffer says that she was influenced by this lack of representation. “I carry in my literary references, the mark of a literature written mostly by men, an aspect that denotes the exclusion or lack of the place of women in this literary market and the formation of the reader in a general way,” she says.
Discovering herself as a writer, places and peers, she says, has been an ongoing process. What was done before was done just conversing with herself, was turned into an act of resistance in soirees she frequented in the city. “Until recently, writing had no connection with the idea of being a writer. I found writing a legitimate way of expressing pain, sensations, feelings, indignation, intentions, all this in association with the poets in the soirees. I believe that the publications are important in this sense: giving us a place,” recalls Jennyffer.
Even though timidly, Jenyffer tells that she came now to look at herself as a writer after being one of the guests to participate in the anthology Pretextos de Mulheres Negras (pretexts of Black Women), an initiative of the Mjiba collective, released in October 2013 with the support of the program Valorização de Iniciativas Culturais (VAI or Appreciation of Cultural Initiatives) of the city of São Paulo.
In the same publication, she participated with the poet and co-founder of Sarau Elo da Corrente, Raquel Almeida, author of the newly released Sagrado Sopro, do solo que eu renasço (Sacred Breath: from the soil that I was reborn). The poet sees a promising future on the scene of female writing that outmaneuvers the invisibility of the Brazilian elitist editorial market.
“I see that peripheral literary scene has grown in a beautiful way. But unfortunately, we are still seen as the icing on the cake, the table garnish. However, we ‘broke down this door’ and we are putting our work on the street, making and telling black poetry. I see that we are empowering ourselves more and more and I feel proud to be part of a literary generation of women that make and conquer,” she says.
Source: Brasil de Fato