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Brazilian Poet Ferreira Gullar Dies of Pneumonia at 86 in Rio de Janeiro

12/05/2016 - 11h18

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PAULO WERNECK
SPECIAL FOR FOLHA

Ferreira Gullar, a poet, essayist, art critic, translator, biographer and Folha columnist since 2005, died at about 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, December 4, at the age of 86. Gullar's granddaughter, Celeste, confirmed his death.

He had been a patient in Rio de Janeiro's Copa D'Or hospital for some 20 days due to respiratory failure.

Maria Amélia Mello, a friend of Gullar's, the editor of his books published by José Olympio publishing house and of his last book, "Autobiografia Poética e Outros Textos" (published by Editora Autêntica), said the cause of his death was pneumonia.

With great independence, almost always going against the groups in power, Gullar visited several regions of a wide range of ideologies.

Gullar renewed the poetic language and was an avant-garde theorist - he later criticized the paths of contemporary art fiercely. He was a communist militant and attacked the left-wing parties in power since the first moments of the Lula administration.

His square features, with deep facial lines, were happily portrayed by graphic designers, who reproduced his unique characteristics countless times in book and magazine covers.

Gullar's thin and frail body contrasted with his vigorous dark eyes and large nose that resembled an Indian from the Andes – the metal frames of his glasses that covered much his face, his thick eyebrows, the repeated gesture of combing his straight white long hair with his hands, or cleaning the saliva accumulated in his thick lips with the sides of his fingers also were some of his trademarks.

His real name was José Ribamar Ferreira. He was born in the state of Maranhão on September 10, 1930, and worked in virtually every field of culture from avant-garde poetry to popular music, from the aesthetic theory of journalism to pictures in children's books and even television soap operas.

His works normally carried a strong political tone.

Gullar was chosen to be a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters in 2014 and is survived by his companion, Claudia Ahimsa, two children and eight grandchildren.

Translated by THOMAS MUELLO

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