Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Poetry On A String

Poetry On A String

I mentioned in last months blog, an exhibit at the Library of Congress which

featured one form of the literature of Brazil called “cordel”.

I was lucky enough to be able to see the wonderful woodblock illustrations that accompanied some of the poems and stories from the northeastern part of Brazil.

Cordel is a Portuguese word meaning string and is given to these traditional folk art pamphlets, because they were hung on strings to be sold in the local marketplaces.

The poems and stories were relevant and vital, reflecting the everyday events in the lives of the Brazilian people. Topics included birth, death, love, conflict, marital strife, Religion, and politics. The folk hero, Lampiao, a kind of Brazilian Robinhood was a popular subject. They were often done with humor and usually accompanied by a simple woodcut, which pertained to the subject matter. They are still being done today in all parts of Brazil, but more often as an information conduit, focusing on teachings for children, public health issues and politics. Sometimes they are done as an honorary tribute and are biographies of famous Brazilians. It is an art form that is still evolving and in 2011 a special edition cordel was given to President Obama in honor of his visit to Rio de Janeiro

Seeing the exhibit gave rise to many thoughts of my time spent in Brazil and I was thrilled to hear the beautiful Portuguese language spoken by some of the commentators.

It must have put me in a poetic mood, for a few days later I wrote this poem.

Poetry On A String

Write your thoughts

Hang them on a string

in the market place

so people have to


more than a penny

to read them.


be happy when the

wind whirls them away

leaving you

in peace.



  1. Rae Cooper says

    "Only Claire can put magic to 'a penny for your thoughts'..."

  2. I love this expression of poetry as part of everyday life, that is for all the people!

  3. Poetry and music is definitely intertwined with the daily life of most Brazilians.
    Cordel is now on found on the internet in Brazil.