A woman from Rio Grande do Norte is among the semifinalists of the 65th edition of the Jabuti Prize, the most important literary award in Brazil. The indigenous Eva Potiguara competes in the Poetry category with the book Aby Ayala Membyra Nhe’Engara: cânticos de uma daughter da terra, published by UK’A Editorial, and in the Promotion of Reading category, with Álbum Guerreiras da Ancestralidade do Mulherio das Letras Indígenas , an anthology he organized.
She says that Aby Ayala was signed up by editor Daniel Munduruku and was surprised when she was selected. “For me, it is important to be part of this process, because my work is of a poetic nature that is not within the parameters of the classical canons of literature. I see it as a decolonial process. For me, this is very significant, since mine, our struggle, that of the indigenous peoples, in the city or in the villages, is to be heard, to be read, to be remembered and respected. This possibility of having been read by people that I would probably never have as readers is fundamental.”says the writer.
With texts full of struggle for reparation, social justice and recognition, Evanir de Oliveira Pinheiro seeks to speak with the voice of the people he presents in his signature, Potiguara: “I always like to use the pronoun in the third person plural, because when I write I feel that my writing is not from just one person; it belongs to a community; of a centrality that is embodied in my skin.”
Thus, his speeches are marked by knowledge and concepts of indigenism. “This land here is not Brazil, it is Pindorama. We are not Americans, we are children of Aby Ayala, children of the land”, he points out, warning that in his book there are poems about sailing or floating and others are about windy weather. Eva describes poems that smell like the woods and morning rain, as well as those that are like fire. The connection with the elements and roots are recurrent, as in “Mátria Amada”, which she highlights.
Five centuries of oppression
From North to South of Brazil
Racism and usurpation prevail
Our uprising is resistance
For freedom and demarcation
All colors ask for justice
reforestation and preservation
For the Beloved Motherland, hail, hail!
Respect our Constitution
Or let’s save Mother Earth
Or we lose Brazil!
Eva is also an audiovisual artist and researcher of indigenous literature and culture at the Languages and Self-Formation Group linked to the CNPQ. She has a degree in Fine Arts, a master’s degree and a doctorate in Education from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte and is a professor in the areas of teacher training in Pedagogy and Literature at the Presidente Kennedy Institute of Higher Education (Ifesp).
He is a member of several academies of Letters and Arts, including the Académie Luninescence da Devotion of Arts and Letters of France – Brazil branch. He is an immortal member of chair 13 of the Academia de Letras do Brasil-ALB, Campos de Goitacazes / RJ section; member of the Academic Nucleus of Letters and Arts of Portugal – Nalap; member of the Society of Living Poets and Related Poets of RN – SPVA and the Literary and Artistic Association of Potiguares Women – Alamp. He is also a member of the International Association of Literature and Art – Literarte and Mulherio das Letras Nísia Floresta.
Despite the apparent formality of her CV, she says she has no intention of bringing a refined aesthetic, within strict standards: “My responsibility and my manifestation is with a scribe of many voices that are in my skin, in my DNA, in my structure as a being that is part of a web that fights to honor the lives of ancestors, through my own life. I use my voice and poetry for this.”
Individuality also appears. Under treatment for cancer, Eva believes that history and moment outline the songs of the daughter of the earth that she is. She says that the arts have been in her life since childhood, a time when her roots had been erased – a common past for many descendants of original peoples.
“After my grandmother died, I discovered the story of my great-grandmother, who was raped by my great-grandfather. She was indigenous to the Potiguara village, in Brejo Paraibano. Then I discovered my great-great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother and I delved deeper into this ancestral path, making internal transformations.”
When visiting the village in Paraíba, she reported feeling the presence of her aunts and grandmother in the women there, not only in their phenotype, but also in their daily lives.
“My grandmother was a faith healer, she made her own clothes and the way they prepared food was very linked to what I saw with my grandmother. It was already a language of that culture. Then I came across the knowledge of my paternal family that has roots in Goianinha, in the Agreste of Rio Grande do Norte and also on the Tinto River, bordering Baía Formosa. I said: that’s it, I’m a potiguara on both sides”remember.
The connection strengthened in recent years, when he became closer to his relatives and traveled participating in movements against Marco Temporal, Marcha das Mulheres Indígenas, Acampamento Terra Livre.
That was when he changed his work surname “Potiguar” to “Portiguara”. The name given to those born in Rio Grande do Norte, according to Eva, is a white invention. “I’m not just a shrimp eater, as Câmara Cascudo said, I’m an indigenous woman.”
Jabuti Award 2023
The list of ten works selected by was released by the Brazilian Book Chamber (CBL). The next stage will be on November 21st, when the five finalists per category will be announced. The winners will be revealed on December 5th, in a ceremony at the Theatro Municipal de São Paulo.
Potiguara’s book competes with Water is a time machine, by Aline Motta; The new utopia, by Régis Bonvicino; Corsair Soul, by Claudia Roquette-Pinto; Red macaws, by Cida Pedrosa; Ghost Engineer, by Fabrício Corsaletti; End of Summer, by Paulo Henriques Britto; Rio Pequeno, from Floresta; Birosca sonnets and terreiro poems, by Luiz Antonio Simas; and Weiyamî: women who shine, by Sony Ferseck. Check out the full list of semifinalists.
In 2023, Jabuti received registrations for 4,245 works. Delivered since 1959, the Award has 21 categories divided into four axes: Fiction (Story; Chronicle; Comics; Children’s; Juvenile; Poetry; Entertainment Novel; Literary Novel) and Non-Fiction (Arts; Biography and Reporting; Sciences; Sciences Humanities; Social Sciences; Creative Economy), Editorial Production (Cover, Illustration, Graphic Design and Translation) and Innovation (Debut Writer, Promotion of Reading and Brazilian Book Published Abroad).
The winners of the Fiction and Non-Fiction Axes also compete in the Book of the Year category, with a prize of R$70,000 and a trip to the next edition of the Frankfurt Book Fair, a large publishing business counter. Until 2022, the prize was R$100,000, but it was readjusted to pay for the winner’s trip to Frankfurt, with the aim of helping to internationalize the author’s work. The other winners receive a statuette and R$5,000.