It takes a lot to be an innovative poet in 2016. For new and inventive poetry to reach a wide and diverse audience is a rare occurrence. Rarer than that, even, is for an innovative poet to reach a wide and diverse audience on their own dime, but Brazilian poet Pedro Gabriel has done just that.
Image courtesy of author’s Facebook page
Gabriel writes poems exclusively on napkins. The 32 year old author says the idea came to him years ago when he was on the bus home from work. He had forgotten his notebook, so he rushed to the nearest bar in Rio de Janeiro, grabbed a handful of napkins, and began to draw. Gabriel is both a poet and an illustrator, but he doesn’t necessarily view them as separate mediums. His poems incorporate cartoons and words, which makes for a zany and inventive fusion.
The poems he has released thus far follow a character named “Antonio”, whom Pedro calls “…me with a bit more courage to express myself”. On the themes of his poetry, Gabriel has said, “Obviously, this success is also linked to the fact that I write about universal feelings – the several types of love, missing someone, freedom etc – but in a different way, using wordplay.” The “success” he mentions here, alludes to his near 1 million Facebook followers, 704,000 Instagram followers, and 13.9,000 Twitter followers. The amassment of this organic following peaked the interest of publishing house Intrinseca, who proposed he release a traditional book. So far he has put out two: My name is Antonio and Second my Name is Antonio. He has a third on the way.
Image courtesy of Intrinseca
In his home country, the books have sold more than 200,000 copies- a great success considering the difficulty of being published in Brazil. It’s not uncommon for a writer to be restricted by their means. JK Rowling started The Sorcerer’s Stone on napkins as well, but abandoned the strategy when she started to rake in some cash. Pedro has remained intent on sticking to what works. He still writes exclusively in Cafe Lamas: the bar in Rio where the whole thing started.
On the fate of the series, Gabriel has said, “Amazingly, I still feel a lot of pleasure in making them; I am still surprised with what I have to say. Obviously, I will not force myself to create new napkins just to feed the big audience who follows me, I will always create based on my emotions. Antônio and the napkin manifestations will last until I feel truth in it.” Whatever happens with the project, Pedro Gabriel has to be applauded for bringing his art directly to the people and making a career out of pure creativity.
Featured image courtesy of Intrinseca