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Archanjo, Neide (b.


Poet, lawyer, and psychologist, Neide Archanjo is considered one of the most
important poets of Brazilian literature from the 1960’s generation. The influence
of Jorge de Lima’s poetry in Archanjo early works is clear. Her poetry also
reveals the influence of Carlos Drummond de Andrade’s poetry, with whom she
kept correspondence and, later in her, career participated in a celebratory CD
recording of his poems. Other poets like Ilka Brunhilde Laurito, Olga Savary, and
Renata Pallottini are in her cycle of friends. She is regarded as a modernist poet
interested in both subjective and discursive forms, and an explorer of a variety of
the tendencies and directions of her time. As we know, the greatest
accomplishment of modernism has been precisely its oppeness, its critical view
and clarity, its unceasing aesthetic exploration and its deepening of
consciousness. Neide Archanjo work is a testimony of this movement.

Archanjo was born in São Paulo in 1940, where she attended law school at the
Universidade de São Paulo (University of São Paulo), and studied psychology at
Faculdades Metropolitanas Unidas de São Paulo. In 1967, the year she
graduated from college, she moved to Rio de Janeiro to work for Petrobrás, the
Brazilian Oil Company, where she served as a lawyer until 1992, even after her
career as a writer was already established.

Archanjo was only twenty four years old when she published Primeiros Ofícios
da Memória (First Duties of Memory) in 1964, the year of Brazil’s military coup.
Despite of her age, her debut was celebrated by significant poets and critics such
as Hilda Hilst, Paulo Bonfim and Domingos Carvalho da Silva, who praised the
author’s work for its intellectual density as well as its simple and yet refined
poetic form. Both in Primeiros Ofícios da Memória and her next book, O Poeta
Itinerante (The Itinerant Poet) published in 1968, she explores her very personal
universe, but in the latter she takes up the tradition of the long, unified poem
made up of chants (Telurica, Onirica, Ascese, Mistica and Epuras), introduced by
Vilém Flusser. Her poetry is permeated with metaphysics and a dense reflection
around the universals. Making use of abundant metaphors and images, Archanjo
seeks the sublime and the timeless present in everyday life, while the historical is
translated into exercises in contemplation.

In 1969, - one of the hardest years of the dictatorship under Médici’s rule -
Archanjo, together with her brother José Luiz Archanjo, Ilka Brunhilde and
Renata Pallottini, created the literary movement Poesia na Praça (Poetry at the
Square). Poesia na Praça embodied socio-political concerns and the resistance
to censorship. Although the group did not participate in guerrilla movements, they
were engaged in cultural protests, hanging poems written on cardboard and hung
on clothe lines strung between trees at the Praça da República (Republic
Square) in São Paulo. Poesia na Praça was the title of her third book, published
in 1970. The book received critical acclaim, and was awarded the Prêmio Pen
Clube de São Paulo (Pen Club Award of São Paulo) and recognition by Jornal
do Brasil (Journal of Brazil) as one of the ten best books of the year. Poesia na
Praça brings the element of oral language to Archanjo’s poetry.

Her next book, Quixote Tango Foxtrote (1975) is a mature piece, and one of the
most significant poetry books of the 1970’s. The book is highly emotional and
rhythmic, written in an oral and colloquial language. Written in a concise and
direct language, rarely making use of more complex metaphors, Quixote Tango
Foxtrote addresses the usual affective relations – love, human destiny, art and
poetry – but now lived as tangible experiences, integrated in everyday life, and
not as privileged spaces for rare spirits. What articulates the poem is a dialogue
between the poet, Quixote and Sancho Pança.

In 1980, Archanjo develops and implants a literary workshop at the Mario de

Andrade Library (Oficina Literária da Biblioteca Mário de Andrade) and publishes
Escavações (Escavations), where she develops one single theme: Memory.
Managing once again to escape from conventionalisms, making use of a
transparent, simple and concise language, she receives the APCA prize
(Associação Paulista dos Críticos de Arte) for Escavations.

In 1983 she moves to Lisbon, Portugal, to spend a year as a student supported

by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, developing further her project for an
epic poem, which resulted in As Marinhas (The Marines). In Portugal, she was
awarded an Honors position by the Portuguese government and participated at
the Festival de Poesia da Cidade (Festival of Poetry in of the City) in the town of
Afife. The Marines is a long epic-lyric poem exploring the interior odyssey of a
contemporary being in search for his/her Ithaca. The ocean is the context for the
construction of the individual and collective unconscious. The poem is also
autobiographical, as Archanjo describes her personal journey in search of her

Her next two books are Poesia, 1964-1968, (Poetry 1964-1984, collected works),
a compilation of all of her writings; and Tudo é Sempre Agora (All is Always
Now), 1994, both published by Ed. Maltese. She was indicated for Premio Jabuti
(Jabuti Award) of poetry with the book Tudo é Sempre Agora. In 1997 she
published Pequeno Oratório do Poeta para o Anjo (Brief Oratorio from the Poet
to the Angel), translated into French in 2003 and recorded in a CD by the famous
brazilian singer Maria Bethania, who had only recorded Fernando Pessoa’s
poetry by that time. Her tenth book, Epifanias (Epiphanies), also presents a
collection of her writings, divided in five sessions and with preface by Carlos
Nejar, is published 1999.

Meditating about her own future as well as of her nation, she balances historical
reality with emotional myth, often referring to the meaning and function of poetry,
capable of expressing what would not be possible to be expressed in other
Neide Archanjo was the first woman to occupy a chair in the traditional Largo do
São Francisco tribune. She also founded the feminist newspaper A Presença
(The Presence), where she published political poems and commented on some
of the main pillars of her poetic initiation such as Neli Dutra, Mira Schendel,
Vilém Flusser and José Luiz Archanjo. She was also a member of the editorial
commitee of the magazine Poesia Sempre.

Neide Archanjo, together with others like Hilda Hilst and Henriqueta Lisboa,
reaffirms the high quality of the feminine contribution to Brazilian poetry.
Addressing a wide scope of themes such as primitive and modern myths,
sensuality, daydreams, the paradoxes of love, poetic contents of everyday
events, the sphere of the private, the representation of the other, and the act of
writing, Archanjo has been an inspiration for many poets, actors and writers in
Brazil and abroad. For José Nêumanne, author of The best hundred poets of the
20th Century (Os cem melhores poetas do século XX) as a deep intellectual and
poetic genius. For Ignácio de Loyola Brandão, Neide Archanjo “screams with
images, signs and symbols”, being able to express dense occurrences through
her ability to use exact words. For Nelly Novaes Coellho, her work is a
celebration of the real, the visible and the invisible.

If we analyze the development of her work, from 1964 to the present time,
throughout her publications it is possible to identify a growing clarity achieved not
through a rational objectivity but through a deep understanding in the affective
and mental levels of the relationship between the author and reader. If there is
more mystery in her early works, such as Primeiros Ofícios da memória and O
poeta itinerante, there is more giving of herself to the reader in the later Todas as
horas and Epifanias, for example, as Archanjo writes her emotions with growing

The form of her work is free, but with a rigorous rhythm. In Archanjo’s poems
there are few rhyme, if any, and it is the sonority that will dictate the reading
pace. In A Poesia na Praça, she writes with no punctuation and still produces a
coherent discourse, located between the rhythms of everyday speech and chant.
And she capitalizes, adds spaces, all to stress the importance of rhythm in her

Her body of work encompasses several themes and forms, from the short poem
to long epic pieces. She reveals full command of poetic styles, traditional and
non-traditional lyrical poetry, profoundly addressing the ambiguities of the
feminine and masculine, sexual and erotic energy, human emotions and the
historical facts of the world in most of her pieces, as Quixote, Tango e Foxtrote
so clearly demonstrates.

She has explored a variety of themes and forms, going from the long poem (O
Poeta Itinerante, As Marinhas e o Pequeno Oratório do Poeta para o Anjo) to the
sparse poems of Escavações, Tudo é sempre agora, Epifanias e Todas as
Horas). The lyricism that runs through all her poetry is a consequence of a way of
being, feeling and acting.

The Academia Brasileira de Letras (Brazilian Academy of Letters) awarded

Neide Archanjo with the Prêmio ABL de Poesia (ABL Poetry Prize ) Todas as
Horas e Antes: Poesia Reunida (All the Hours and Before: Collection of Poems),
in 2005, when she was also a recipient of the prestigious Prêmio Jabuti (Jabuti
Award), one of the most important literary awards in Brazil.

Luciana Castro

Selected Works

Primeiros Ofícios da Memória. São Paulo: Ed. Massao Ohno, 1964

O Poeta Itinerante. São Paulo: Ed. I.L.A.Palma, 1968
Poesia na Praça. São Paulo: Ed I.L.A.Palma, 1970
Quixote Tango e Foxtrote. São Paulo: Ed. do Escritor, 1975
Escavações. Pref. Carlos Felipe Moisés. Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, 1980.
As Marinhas. São Paulo: Ed. Salamandra, 1984
Poesia, 1964/1984: Antologia. Sel. e est. crít. Pedro Lyra. Rio de Janeiro:
Guanabara, 1987.
Tudo é Sempre Agora. São Paulo: Ed. Maltese, 1995
Pequeno Oratório do Poeta Para o Anjo. São Paulo: Ed. do Autor, 1997
Neide Archanjo por Neide Archanjo .São Paulo: Ed. Luz da Cidade, 1998
Todas as Horas e Antes: Poesia Reunida. Rio de Janeiro: A Giraffa, 2005

References and Further Reading

Bishop, Elizabeth and Brasil, Emanuel. An Anthology of Twentieth-Century

Brazilian Poetry. Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press,1972

De Faria, Alvaro Alves. Palavra de Mulher. São Paulo: Ed. SENAC, 2003

Mario J. Valdes and Kadir Djelal, eds. Literary Cultures of Latin America: A
Comparative History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004

Neinstein, José and Cardozo, Manoel, eds. Poesia Brasileira Moderna:. A

Bilingual Anthology. Washington, DC: Brazilian American Cultural Institute, 1972

Stern, Irwin. Dictionary of Brazilian Literature. New York : Greenwood Press,


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