One is a poet and has 30 years of books. Another has now debuted in the writing of one. The first is from the North, the second from the South. With such different stories and experiences, João Rios and Mário Rufino made a good duo in challenging students aged 12 to 14 to find the right book. The one where every young person will find themselves.
The 6th, 7th, 7th, and 8th classes were already installed in the EB2/3 auditorium in Aver-o-mar, under the care of the school’s librarian teacher, Marta Antunes. There were more teachers in the room.
Mário Rufino entered first, João Rios a little later, with a somewhat distracted look and a wide-brimmed hat on his head. General laughter. “So, did you like the look of these citizens who come here today to talk to you? This hat works wonders. Little discreet, it immediately draws attention.” The relationship and relaxation were established.
To open, Leonardo Rodrigues, 14 years old, 8th grade, used brief biographies of the authors to make them known to his colleagues. Confident and didactic, he would interrupt his speech (which could be read on a three-page PowerPoint slides) whenever I suspected that certain concepts might not be clear to the entire audience. “Pseudonym”, “anthologies”, “way of the cross” deserved an explanation. Is well.
After this short presentation, João Rios started the session. “Ready?” Reaction: “Yessss.”
And he was soon asked: “Is there any work that you wrote and did not publish?” The answer came in a good mood: “My trash can is full of unpublished stuff.” And he spoke directly to the person who had asked the question: “After writing, you must have the ability to distance yourself. Often what I write doesn’t survive the second scrutiny,” she explained, adding with her eyes wide open, “I do an appraisal knife in hand.” In other words, he is ruthless with himself. “You have to discipline the ego”, he further said.
Mario Rufino, who wrote falling (Quetzal Editores), which will be launched at the Lisbon Book Fair, joined the conversation: “In the final text, what remains is a third. The first version never works. There are always better versions of ourselves..”
He recalled that Saramago’s first book, “our Nobel”, Skylight“it was not published soon”.
“Trial and error, trial and error, until you get it right”
The literary critic and professor of Portuguese (Foreign Language) suggested that young people read aloud and write about any subject, giving clues to the process: “Try and fail, try and fail, until you get it right.” He then made an analogy with the steps in a computer game, to better understand them: “In a video game, you move on to the next level and the degree of difficulty increases, but you also become more prepared.”
To the traditional questions about inspiration, the authors added brief ideas about processes and purposes in the answers. João Rios said that any of his books “chases an idea, a proposal, a vision of the world, a voice” that assails him. Mário Rufino was assumed to be “rude”. And he explained: “I look at people, listen to conversations. Inspiration often comes from stories of people heard on the train.”
About the inspiration, João told a story that he classified as “bizarre”: “This friend of yours left a bar at half past three in the morning and remembers looking at the window of a bank and seeing the face of Cristiano Ronaldo [numa publicidade] and simply say this: ‘Rebellion of the species’.” The title and theme were found for one of his poetry books that close the trilogy blood nomads.
There, too, the usefulness/uselessness of books was questioned and phrases such as: “Books do not have to serve for anything”, “books are a space of freedom”, “a library is a large set of questions”, “Literature is a space of great possibilities”.
“Don’t let the algorithm replace you”
João Rios, who is a history teacher at the 2nd cycle, invoked his grandmothers, “one from the sea and the other from the land”, to remember that they taught him that “words give the world eyes”. That’s why he writes.
“I don’t believe there isn’t a book that doesn’t fit each of you. Accept the challenge of looking for it. Because behind one come others.” In the midst of the hubbub, the voice of one of the students was faintly heard: “I already found him.” But unable to identify it. I was curious to know what it would have been.
John further said, “If you don’t like a [livro], open another one. Surely there is a written page out there that tells you something.”
The poet would bring a cardboard box to the classroom. He opened it right there, showing copies of Estuary Item, which brings together a selection of 30 years of poems, in an edition of Abysmo, whose death of the editor, João Paulo Cotrim, he lamented. The book would be presented the following day, at Cine-Teatro Garrett, also within the scope of Correntes d’Escritas, which took place from the 14th to the 18th of February in Póvoa de Varzim.
In a very participatory and disciplined session, within what is possible at these ages (towards the end, there was a sneaker “walking” among the colleagues), there was also talk of rulers in ancient times and the role of teachers was praised. Mário Rufino, who used to work for PÚBLICO, left a warning: “Make your associations of ideas. Don’t let the algorithm replace you.”
“I really like to write, calm down”
The librarian teacher who organized the visit together with Correntes d’Escritas, Marta Antunes, explained that the choice of classes is made in order to give opportunity to different students of the various levels, in each year, since in all editions the school welcomes writers participating in the festival. Thus, there are no “repeaters” and it is possible for “a greater number of students to participate in this experience”.
The student who opened the session and made known the biographies of the guests told PÚBLICO that he was already “more of a reader, during the 5th, 6th year”. However, he says: “I like picking up a book because, in these modern times, it’s all about social media and cell phones and sometimes it’s nice to be flipping through a page, writing, I really like writing, it calms down. It’s another activity.”
He also said: “I’m going into literature, I want to pursue Communication and be a teacher, but the teaching profession is being greatly affected. We will see. I definitely prefer letters to numbers.”
Due to the students’ enthusiasm, distraction or the speed with which time passed, there was only a little reading left to do. It was pity.
PÚBLICO was in Póvoa at the invitation of the festival