Cadernos Negros / Black Notebooks: Tadeu, Limeira, Kibuko, Cuti, Correia, de Assumpção

Black Notebooks_an AfroBrazilian literary journal_since 1978

Teresinha Tadeu
In my lyrics, you will be
asleep, stretched,
crazy, crazy…offensive,
embraced in rags.
In my lyrics, you will be
uncombed, sleepy,
wrapped up in the trash
surrounding you.
You will be with pleading hands
in a gesture of wetting your face
in a fetid pool.
And the ruins
on every side,
filling up the rest of the food,
invite the aura of forgotten insects.
Yes, you will be,
on the pages of a newspaper
used as a sleeping bed for dogs
– and others like you.
In the heart of a mother
who never imagined such a fate,
in the anguish of the poet
who wants you saved.
In my book, you will be
vertical or horizontal,
you will be in my lyrics.
And if I cannot save you,
I will versify you.
. . .
José Carlos Limeira
I walk through these Pelourinhos
Lively still, although only in festive events
Polishing stones with tired feet
Carrying the weight of the future
Rastafaris engage in kisses with blondes in love
Breaking the ancient (bad) treaties
Blondes displacing Black women
Recent ancient multiple functions
Like the pioneers.
The coloured moon of the summer
Flows through beaks and dance
Many are the drums and hairdos
Between handcuffs, somewhat normalized
Breaking the lively rhythms
In the middle of anonymity
Cans of peanuts
Marketed by potential revolutionaries of tomorrow
Scattered all over the tables
Like the plantation of Bread.
In my heart is rekindled
A ghetto, an inspiration
Exchanged, and transformed by this computer screen
Where I type anguish and bitterness
Of this feast of shadows
Of resurrected mansions
About semi-human ghosts
Every bênção Tuesday.
. . .
Bênção – “Blessing”:
This is the weekly musical rehearsal organized by Afro-Brazilian carnaval groups to expose the public to their activities – especially the lyrics of their songs – in preparation for carnaval parades.
Pelourinho is an old quarter of the city of Salvador da Bahia, and was the site of slave trading /auctions, public whippings, etc.
. . .
Oubi Inaê Kibuko
Armed Poem
Let the poem come singing
to the contagious rhythm of the African drum
a forceful, hot song of
courage, affection, unity.
Let the poem come bearing the burden
of bitterness, pain,
hurts, fears,
scars, hunger.
Let the poem come armed
and shoot like a cold-blooded machine gun
fiery words of protest
words pregnant with ridges and daggers.
Let the poem come with foundation
bring along with its roots
building words,
cementing links,
doors, keys, ceilings, walls.
And solidly construct
a fortress of faith
in those who enrich
the army of the hopeless
In order that no wild animal
continue to jump over the stairs
at the expense of illusory necessities.
And that the practice is no longer tolerated
where through skin, sweat and blood
a walled-in people are sucked into
the plantation of exploitation!

A Cadernos Negros journal from 1982

A Cadernos Negros journal from 1982

Evil Eye
at times I am my own suspicious policeman
I ask myself for identity papers
and even after producing them
I arrest myself
and beat myself up.
at times I am my own gatekeeper
who refuses me entrance within myself
through the back door.
at times I am my own crime
a corpus of jurors
the punishment that comes with the verdict.
at times I am love that looks the other way
the evil eye
the strut
the primitive loneliness
that wraps me up with nothingness.
at times I am the crumbs I dreamed of and never ate
the other seen with eyes of shame evoking sadness.
one day I became abolition that suddenly gave me the drive
after a deposed emperor
the republic of heart-suckers
followed by a constitution promulgating me
at every instance
also the violence of an impulse that turns me
upside down
with whitewashed lime and plaster
I become.
at times I insist on not seeing myself
and filled up with their vision of me
I feel like misery conceptualized as an eternal
I close down the circus
being the gesture that negates me
the pinga (alcohol) that I drink and that makes me drunk
and the finger that I use to point
and accuse
is also that point at which I surrender.
At times!
. . .
Lepe Correia
Stubborn Presence
I continue to believe in struggle
I do not speak just anywhere
I do not keep quiet at anyone’s insult
I am a being, a person like everyone
I am not an animal, a rare case
or a strange species
I am the response, the controversy, the deduction
The open door where discussions converge
I am the venomous snake: assault-ready
I am struggle, I am speech, the strike- ready
I am the boot on the chin of the shameless
I am the Black man on the streets of this country.
. . .
Carlos de Assumpção
I am the descendant of Zumbi
Zumbi is my father and guide
He sends me messages from the heavens
My teeth shine in the black night
Sharpened like the staff of Ogun.
I am the descendant of Zumbi
I am brave courageous noble
The cries of affliction of all
The oppressed people of the world
In my heart they flower
With the force of protest
They push me toward struggle they shake me up
I am the descendant of Zumbi
Zumbi is my father and guide
I bring Quilombo community and brave voices within me.
I bring strong tight fists
Joined together like rocks
Flowering like gardens.

. . .

Cadernos Negros (Black Notebooks) was an Afro-Brazilian literary movement begun by the Quilombhoje group in 1978. Several times a year they would produce a journal of poetry and prose informed by Black Pride and a Pan-African consciousness. Recent Cadernos Negros editors have included Márcio Barbosa and Esmeralda Ribeiro. The poems above were translated from Portuguese into English by Niyi Afolabi.