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The brilliance of writing poetry on napkins

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Brazilian poet Pedro Gabriel started writing poems on napkins when he ran out of paper - now, two books and millions of online followers later, his breathtaking designs are set for international recognition, writes children’s books site member Pedro

Brazilian poet Pedro Gabriel has always had his head in the clouds, simmering with ideas in a mix of words that, by a twist of fate, led him to stardom, as his books sold more than 200,000 copies. In a country where the habit of reading is not as strong and being published is something extremely difficult, this is praiseworthy.

“I never thought that it would become my source of income. Nowadays I can say that I live from my poetry and illustration, but three years ago that was unthinkable”, says the 32-year-old author.

The first napkin came to light one day when I was coming back from work and I had forgotten my notebook at home. You may be stuck in traffic, but your ideas are not, and I wanted to write so bad. When I got off the bus, I decided to go to Café Lamas, a traditional bar in Rio de Janeiro which I used to visit, and in that moment the only platform I had was the stack of napkins in front of me. So, very naturally, I started to draw and I was amazed, and then I began to enjoy expressing myself in those tiny and fragile pieces of paper.

I just recently realised the importance of that period I lived abroad, when I found the voice I wanted to communicate in through napkins. Despite the language itself, all the wealth amongst which I lived in these 12 years in Africa was crucial for me to draw my poetry; everything is a reflex of what I have lived in some moment of my life.

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“The first book is all made of photographed napkins, and in that one it’s clear that Antônio is a bohemian; there’s bar language, some puns. The second already has some isolated and shy paragraphs plus some illustrations, as if Antônio had left the bars and entered the world of dreams. In the third, there will be a strong marriage between napkin and prose, with longer texts.

Antônio is a character of a novel that is being written and lived’. My idea is that these three books form a kind of pre-novel trilogy, keeping the visual side, of course, which is my brand. Maybe a mix of graphic novel with prose?”, continues the author.

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