Regis Bonvicino: One of the leading Brazilian constructivist poet, essayist and critic in Portuguese language. The Latin America whose magic realism made waves in Indian literature in mid twentieth century. Bonvicino, a resident of the megalopolis Sao Paulo, a Latin American multicultural city, writes about the violent reality of Brazil in his new book Beyond the Wall: “Under the veneer of its vivacity, Brazil is violent, a vile viper playing a violet viola. He describes a new utopia (“A Nova Utopia”) where “You can be Black without being White, White without being Black.” Bonvicino’s neorealism is a multidimensional process of seeing reality in contrast to European surrealism: a momentary awareness of the dynamic imaginable yet ungraspable relationship of the material world with life and existence, pointing to the unreality of reality.
In his poem, Bonvicino defines Brazil’s location: “Brazil is located on the southern tears of the Americas” The term Tears has double meaning. Tear in the usual sense of the geographical division of North and South America. Another tear is hidden inside the negative pronunciation of Bonvicino’s “Poema Negativo”. The verb root of the word ‘negative’ in Bengali is equivalent to ‘re’ in English─ which speaks about the dynamicity of existence ─ this dynamicity is the only truth of life. With the poet’s consciousness, the commoner’s concept of Brazil has become the tears of Americas─ a critical view of the poet to point to the North American relationship with Brazil, because the poet thinks that poetry “breathes through a critical apparatus.” This “critical apparatus” is important to Bonvicino because the poet’s thinks that “Art cannot exist without a critical spirit”. This ‘critical spirit’ of the poet is expressed in the name-poem of his book Estado Crítico (Critical State):
It’s the sarcophagus of a piranha-wench
It’s a near-sighted Tarzan
Scanning a blue sky
It’s Silêncio Nightclub
As if he is looking into our life from the critical angle of optics─ while crossing the different levels of mediums of thought and consciousness, the poet’s philosophical perception in the background of social, political, historical and ideological concept of Brazil goes beyond the limit of the incident angle. As a result, instead of refraction of the poet’s consciousness, a full internal reflection occurs. And we get the new “Definition of Brazil”.
Brazil, a Latin American country whose official language is Portuguese, but Bonvicino’s pluralism denies the homogenization of cultures into a single monoculture and acknowledges the existing diversity of the world and with the concept of human equality he pronounces “Brazil speaks Lebanese, Portuguese, Japanese, Guarnaríse, Tupiese, Inglese… Brazil was colonized by Indians who turned the Portuguese into natives”─ shows Bonvicino’s political pun and irony of poetry─ an oscillating existence between opacity and radical legibility. In sixteenth century, Portuguese explorers from Portugal colonized Brazil that lasted about three hundred years. Indigenous people of different tribes and different languages, such as Tupi, Guarani etc live in not only Brazil, but also spreading across America and they are known as Indian, which is used as synonym of indigenous. In Portuguese, Terra do Brasil (land of Brazil) is shortened to Brazil. The red dye, produced from the famous Brazilian native tree Brazilwood, used to be exported to different countries of the world. In Portuguese, it is called pau-brasil, the etymological source of which is Portuguese brasa (ember). ─ Bonvicino’s phrases are red like this burning coal, which he used to define Brazil: “The official religion of Brazil is not just samba but macumba and umbanda, tarantella and churrasco/ Candomblé is the Brazil wood of world philosophy─ where the basic philosophy of Brazil is expressed: syncretism ─ an attempt to unite different philosophical and religious beliefs. Makumba, Umbanda, Candomblé are the different religious beliefs of different indigenous peoples of Brazil and Samba, Tarantella and churrasco dances are their traditions. In the root of Candomblé, there is a concept of uniting various religious beliefs and rituals, social and cultural traditions of different cultural groups of Hispanic, African slaves and Brazil, developed mainly during the period of American slavery, when Brazilian and African slaves were forcibly converted to Catholic. Bonvicino speaks about that Candomblé’s philosophy that created a parallel universe to develop their own culture and beliefs in protest of slavery, exploitation, oppression and deprivation. Bonvicino gives the hints of the word Pindorama─ “Brazil is a land of palms and psalms”─ in the indigenous Guarani language, Brazil is called as Pindorama to mean “land of palm trees”─ rethinking cultural marginality of postmodernism in contrast to the elitist culture of modernity and its discriminatory judgment. Bonvicino’s poetry is the lyrics of the present moment, lyrics of reality─ the reality where we live with all its traditional good and evil, its social love and hate, its political success or failure, its cultural joy and sorrow─ echoes his poem “On Ipanema beach, at the very moment when dusk turns to night, you can hear Orpheus singing for Eurydice; he sings an elegy called “Brazil””
In the commentary on Bonvicino’s Beyond the Wall, the North American poet Charles Bernstein says: ─”Bonvicino is to twenty-first century São Paulo what Charles Baudelaire was to nineteenth-century Paris: the poet as flaneur wandering through the cultural detritus of our time with mordant gaze and dark wit.” Bonvicino’s imageries express not only the form, but also provide profound inner meanings, impregnated with emotions as Eliot said in his essay on Baudelaire. ─ “It is not merely in the use of imagery of common life, not merely in the use of imagery of the sordid life of a great metropolis, but in the elevation of such imagery to the first intensity— presenting it as it is, and yet making it represent something much more than itself.” Bonvicino’s imagery acknowledges the existence of image and then blends his imagination with it to form a new palpable language for its visual representation. As we see in the poem “Image Impossible” in this book: a beggar near the gutter with its scraps and rags against the wall and beggars embracing in their squat on the street. The poet is writing what he sees on the street, confronting the streets with literature─ the concept of caméra-stylo used in French film, which is termed as camera pen by the film director Alexandre Astruc, where the movie is a form of audio-visual language with its play of light. With the journey through his expansive consciousness, Bonvicino draws the scene of the moment, reflected in his mind’s camera, on the canvas of eternity. It is a kind of negative reality, the darkness beyond the experience, the painful real feelings of the moment, a witness of time. Bonvicino constructs punctuation-less, subject-less, emotion-free “impossible” imageries just with the use of few signs: as Antonio Alcir Bernárdez Pécora, the literary professor of Brazil, said about the constructivism of Bonvicino─ “Régis develops the idea that all visible misery is reconstructed in our minds like a script of a monstrous reality show, which poems barely hint the existence.” “Image Impossible” is constructed like an “intellectual montage” of Russian film, invented by the film director and theorist Sergei Eisenstein, where contrast and juxtaposition plays side by side. Bonvicino’s poems engage in endless rhythm of reality, spread over the Einsteinian space-time, the “fourth dimension” of the world of cinema, where “I hear” of the musical overtone and “I see” of the visual overtone merge into the new reality ‘I feel’ of the intellectual montage. The meaning created by the conflict between the two “Impossible” images, placed side by side, open up a new third meaning through dialectics─ uses a disjunctive gesture of two “Impossible” images to establish the desired meaning.
In the early twentieth century, after the October Revolution in Russia, the constructivism movement began under the leadership of the avant-garde sculptor and photographer Alexander Rodchenko and the painter and architect Vladimir Tatlin, to explore a new poetics, in the background of the modern civilization, its bourgeois society, and its pain and suffering. It was a desire to find oneself with the dynamic interplay with the world, one’s experiences of modern life, its dynamics, its conflicts with space-time, its contradictions and social problems and their solutions in the new social system of the newly established democratic state. Bonavisino’s constructivism opens up multiple possibilities of perceptual models for solutions, rather than Avant-graded single best solution. It echoes the multidimensionality of postmodernism, the origin of which is Hispanic─ Federico de Onis, the Spanish poet of Nicaragua, who first identified the postmodern tendencies in the Latin American philosophy of life around 1930. Bonavisino’s poetic journey is to blast off the center to move towards periphery, not centripetal, but centrifugal journey, not anti-modernism, but a positive tendency to go beyond the upper limits of modernism─ “The change in modernism may be called postmodernism,” as said by Ihab Hassan, the American literary scholar. This change is the key to progress. This is the way the world moves forward, the dimension of time and the dimension of language moves beyond. This is the way the history of poetry progress in every country in every era.
The concrete movement of Brazil was the background of Bonvicino’s literary journey. In fifties of the twentieth century, when people’s distrust, despair and anger exploded in the wake of the horrific devastation of World War II, and the suffering of people and the economic catastrophe of the war-torn country intensified, the concretism started in Brazilian literature under the initiative of the three poets of the “Noigandres” group of Sao Paulo─ Haroldo de Campos, Augusto de Campos and Decio Pignatari. Marjorie Parloff, a scholar and critic of American literature, traces the origin of the word “Noigandres” to reveal an exciting story in her prose “Writing as Re-Writing: Concrete Poetry as Arrière-Garde”: The word “Noigandres” was first used by the Arnaut Daniel, a twelfth century’s French poet of Provencal region of France. Augusto de Campos said that the word “Noigandres” is derived from Ezra Pound’s Canto-XX, where the poet asks Emil Levy, a Provençal specialist professor at Freiburg─ what is the meaning of the word “Noigandres”. He could not find the answer for six months, but his brilliant confession shines: “Noigandres, NOIgandres! / You know for seex mons of my life / Effery night when I go to bett, I say to myself: / Noigandres, eh noigandres, Now what the DEFFIL can that mean!” Even after this startling disclaimer in phonetic language, Levy suggested that the word can be divided into two parts: enoi (ennui: exhaustion) and gandres (gandir: resist or remove) and the ancient French lyricists used the word for the floral scent to drive away ennui.
Regis Bonvicino identifies himself as “a signic reporter”, where we get the roots of his concretism ─ the relationship of signifier-sign-signified that lies at the center of language. Word is a symbol of an object, but object is not a symbol of anything, it is complete in itself. As a symbol, every word refers to the object or its essence. So the symbol is not the meaning of the word. Sign and meaning are not the same. The poet breaks the symbolic word into signifier-sign-signified to discover their relationship, and identifies the sound in the source of the word. Like symbolists, the concretists were in favor of presenting poetry as it is. Language is a system of signs, constructed by the poet’s own local culture and society, and meaning is produced by the interaction of their signifiers and signified. Bonvicino believes that “a poem don’t live beyond its words, its dark and backward suns” as he said in his poem “Prose”. Any structure consists of its elements. It is possible to determine the meaning of a composition only if the structure is organized according to the rules of its letters, words and grammar. Bonvicino believes in “a poem don’t live beyond its words, its dark and backward suns” ─writing in his poem “Prose”. Ferdinand de Saussure gave privilege to speech over writing─ post-structuralism appeared against this classification of construction, against the Saussurian binary opposition─ the expanded thought of which is reflected in Bonvicino’s poetry: Derridian theory of deconstruction─ “An opposition of metaphysical concepts (speech/writing, presence/absence, etc.) is never the face-to-face of two terms, but a hierarchy and an order of subordination. Deconstruction cannot limit itself or proceed immediately to neutralization: it must, by means of a double gesture, a double science, a double writing, practice an overturning of the classical opposition, and a general displacement of the system.”The poet’s continuous introspective journey is to respond the despair originated from the perversion and destruction of the society. As a “signic reporter”, Bonvicino discovers a new relationship between signifier and signified; by the deconstruction process, he decenters the composition to break its inner and outer boundaries; identifies the logical cracks and creates an intimate and innovative composition that destroys the prefixed purpose of the composition. The process of Bonvicino’s poetry is “a strategy of immanent shock”, as the famous Brazilian critic Alcir Pecora said in the preface to Bonvicino’s book Estado Crítico. This immanent shock of Bonvicino’s poetry questions the human values in the sociopolitical environment; his realization discovers the limitations of consciousness and breaks them down, and from the contradiction between subjective and objective creates a negative dialectics: “Imaginable reality: imaginable in consequence of being real. Imaginable yet ungraspable. Imaginable yet apparently out of images ’reach. Imaginable because we have no choice but to imagine, no matter how resistant our imaginations may be to the task. Imagined, in other words, through the not that Adorno called negative dialectics” as Charles Bernstein pitches.
Concretism: what has already happened is the past, unchangeable; represent it as it is. No interpretation, no comment, no conclusion, no philosophical analysis, but the Poe-tics─ “only this, nothing more”. The concrete poetry movement began with the idea of renewal of Avant-gardism. Its manifesto was parallel to the arrière-gardism of the British historian and architect Kenneth Frampton.: “Architecture can only be sustained today as a critical practice if it assumes an arrière-garde position… one which distances itself equally from the Enlightenment myth of progress…only a arrière-garde has the capacity to cultivate a resistance.” Though Concrete poetry replaces the French word Avant (front) with arrière (behind), but it is not actually an antonym, rather complementary as Perloff says: “The concept of the avant-garde is inconceivable without its opposite…. in other words, an avant-garde movement is no longer a novelty, it is the role of the arrière-garde to complete its mission.” ─ Not a complete deviation from the traditional mainstream, but a reorientation. All the poems in the world are thus deviated from the mainstream as per the time and social environment; the color of language changes; form changes; words gather new meaning. Bonvicino’s poetic journey moves to search for that liberation. The concrete movement that once started with the spirit of liberation, chained itself by its own rules, as Odile Cisneros, a Mexican writer, critic and translator, said. : “The concrete attempt at liberating poetry from its former strictures by radical change, eventually degenerated into an exclusionary movement, dictating what poetry “should be” and delineating often rigid rules for the production of poetic texts.” Then neoconcretism and, later tropicalism which is defined by Bonvicino in an interview: “Tropicalismo, a Brazilian approach combining traditional samba with a variety of Caribbean, US, and European styles, political enough to get most of its practitioners exiled by the military dictatorship.” In the course of time, the neoconcretism and tropicalism became the canon of the institutions, where poetry is only an empty expression. Bonvicino, who believes in continuous change, and don’t want to be fixed under the flag of any group, but prefers the poetic adventure with continuous innovation through personal experimentation.
Bonvicino says in his interview: “My Eden is the Russian cubo-futurism of 1917, when a revolution in art and politics were happening at the same time.” Cubo-futurism is a distinct Russian style developed in the realm of visual art to move beyond the French Cubism and Italian Futurism by blending the features of the two European movements, led by the poets and writers such as Vladimir Mayakovsky and Vladimir Khelbnikov─ the laboratory for the experiment on forms and languages of poetry. With the harmony between the continuous changing and charging of the perception of consciousness and their inventions, the poet’s individuality makes it possible to give birth of new language. The construction of poetry is the construction of the structure of its language and words are the vehicle of its language. But words doesn’t carry a single meaning. All words are multi-layered, dynamic, and full of possibilities of innumerable meanings. Instead of pre-determined purpose, the process of poetry is much more valuable to Bonvicino. The process of poetry is always dynamic that never achieves perfection, because it has no final destination; there is no such thing called most perfect composition; all compositions moves towards a more perfect invention, moves towards the Emersonian “more correct”─ a temporary destination. Bonvicino’s neorealism speaks for the progress from a new form to more-new form, from a truth to more-truth of imagination; otherwise, dialectics becomes meaningless. There is no absolute truth. There is only becoming─ “more” speaks about the continuous movement, which has no end. With its continuous evolution, the fixed object in its time and space tangles its colors and lines with the angles of the cubes. The reality of matter lies on the wheel of time. The ancient Indian philosopher said “Om Tat Sat”─ speaks about the moving entity within the object which is not visible, but active and perceivable, the exterior of which is only a temporary form. That entity within the object is “Tat”─ “Purush” in ancient Indian language─ “content” in English─ the entity that passes from object to object, gradually changes its nature its physique from form to form. As a result, there is no way to identify objects without abstraction. The existence of reality of an event/occurrence depends on the conventional language of the poet’s moral conceptions, social religious beliefs, political and cultural views and opinions. Bonvicino moves beyond this conventional language to embody the tangible experience, gathered from the everyday life. The poet knows that reality cannot be imitated. So, with the reality, reflected in the poet’s consciousness beyond his vision of eyes, beyond the wheel of time of reality, Bonvicino creates hyperreality. Bonvicino’s poetry tells about the permanent revolution, an endless journey with continuous innovations, echoed by the constructionist Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky: “March, march out to the fore! Away with speech-making lousy! Quieter, orators! you have the floor, Comrade Mauser (name of a pistol) too long we’ve lived by the laws Adam and Eve left. Run down old History’s horse! Left! Left! Left!” The poet becomes sad and sorrowful with the warp and woof of light and dark, hope and despair, of the difficult contradicting real world and seeks for a parallel world in his aesthetics and poetics. Bonvicino faces with the continuous uncertainty and contrast of reality, and discovers the illusions of reality like his favorite poet Federico Garcia Lorca: “What’s real/ is the reflection./ Nothing here but one heart/ and one wind./ Don’t cry! It’s all the same to be up close or/ far away./ Nature is/ the eternal Narcissus.” The echo of Lorca’s “heart” could be heard in Bonvicino’s poems in his book Regis Hotel, where he says to himself: “a concretist who didn’t know what to do with his heart.”
To counteract the modern Brazilian bourgeois aesthetics, Bonvicino embraces neorealism to echo the melody of post-World War II Italian neorealistic films, directed by Federico Fellini, Roberto Rossellini and Michelangelo Antonioni. Bonvicino’s neorealism witnesses the suffering and spiritual crisis of Brazilians in the socioeconomic condition of everyday life─ questions the empty bourgeois way of life of the megalopolis Sao Paulo─ seeks for the total liberation of human where his philosophy is both personal and impersonal at the same time─ echoes Indian philosophy of Brahma─ one end of which says ‘I am’, while the other end says ‘I am not’─ “The strange superposition of quantum theory…simultaneous ‘occurring’ and ‘not occurring’” ─ the Brahma, the dark energy of our mind, the Self, the soul, the whole─ the Brahma who is unknowable by mind, intellect and senses in the objective sense, but knowable through direct intuitive perception─ he is intimate in innermost and far away in the exterior, whose truth becomes our truth, whose joy and sorrow becomes our expressions of poems.
 Beyond the Wall: New Selected Poems by Régis Bonvicino, Green Integer, København & Los Angeles, 2016. http://www.greeninteger.com/book.cfm?-Bonvicino-Beyond-the-Wall-&BookID=302
 Criticality and Vertigo: An Interview with Régis Bonvicino. Source: http://sibila.com.br/english/criticality-and-vertigo-an-interview-with-regis-bonvicino/11478
 Estado Crítico by Régis Bonvicino (Editora Hedra, 2013).
 “Definition of Brazil” is a poem included in the book Beyond the Wall by Regis Bonvicino.
 T. S. Eliot, Selected Essays, 3rd ed, London, 1951
 “No one is out of the woods yet, least of all the poet” an essay by Alcir Pécora in response to the album libretto– Deus devolve o revólver (God gives back the gun) by Régis Bonvicino. 16 poems read by Bonvicino, the soprano Caroline de Comi, and the North-American poet Charles Bernstein, Audio engineering and production design by Rodrigo Dário─ https://deliriorecords.bandcamp.com/album/deus-devolve-o-rev-lver
 See website of Marjorie Perloff─ marjorieperloff.blog. http://www.lehman.cuny.edu/ciberletras/v17/perloff.htm
 Margins of Philosophy, trans. Bass, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982
 Bernstein Charles. 2016. Pitch of Poetry. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
 From the poem “The Raven” by Edger Allen Poe.
 See Ref-8
“The Poetry of Régis Bonvicino: One Poet’s Way Out of the Concrete Jungle” by Odile Cisneros, source: http://regisbonvicino.com.br/catrel.asp?c=14&t=27
 “The Sung Word” by Regis Bonvicino and Odile Cisneros. They interviewed Caetano Veloso, a Brazilian singer, song writer and political activist, in 1979. The interview was first published in 1980 in Código, a review edited by Erthos Albino de Souza in Salvador (Bahia), a publication that today is a collector’s item. (https://jacket2.org/interviews/sung-word)
 Sanskrit Mantra of Hindu scripture: Bhagavad Gita, Verse 17.23
 “Left March (For Sailors)” by Vladimir Mayakovsky, (1918)
 Poem “Sesame” from Moments of Song by Lorca, translated by Jerome Rothenburg.
 See ref-11
 Penrose Roger. 1994. Shadows of the Mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press.