Paulo Leminski

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Paulo Leminski
Grafite de Paulo Leminski.jpg
A graffiti of Leminski in Curitiba
Paulo Leminski Filho

(1944-08-24)August 24, 1944
DiedJune 7, 1989(1989-06-07) (aged 44)
Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil
OccupationPoet, judoka, biographer, translator, teacher, literary critic
Notable work
Catatau, Distraídos Venceremos, Agora É que São Elas, Haitropikais, Caprichos e Relaxos
  • Neiva Maria de Sousa
    (m. 1961; div. 1968)
  • Alice Ruiz
    (m. 1968; div. 1988)
ChildrenPaulo Leminski Neto (born January 31, 1968)
Parent(s)Paulo Leminski II
Áurea Pereira Mendes

Paulo Leminski Filho (August 24, 1944 – June 7, 1989) was a Brazilian poet, translator, literary critic, biographer, teacher and judoka. He was noted for his avant-garde work, an experimental novel and poetry inspired in concrete poetry, as well as abundant short lyrics derived from haiku and related forms.[1]


Leminski was born in Curitiba, in the Brazilian state of Paraná, in 1944. His father, Paulo Leminski II, was of Polish descent, and his mother, Áurea Pereira Mendes, was of Portuguese, Afro-Brazilian and indigenous descent. In 1958, Leminski was sent to the Monastery of Saint Benedict in São Paulo, where he stayed for a year. During the First Congress of Brazilian Experimental Poetry in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, he met Haroldo de Campos, who would become one of his long-time friends and major influences. In 1961, at only seventeen years old, he married Neiva Maria de Sousa, a plastic artist. Their relationship lasted for seven years, until they divorced. In 1964 he published his first poems in the arts journal Invenção, founded by Décio Pignatari, Haroldo de Campos and his brother Augusto. In 1965 he became a history and creative writing teacher, even though he had never finished college. He was also an expert judo sensei.

In 1968 he married for the second time, this time with fellow poet Alice Ruiz. They had three children: Miguel Ângelo (who died prematurely due to a lymphoma), Áurea (named after Leminski's mother) and Estrela Ruiz Leminski, who would also become a poet, artist and musician. He moved temporarily to Rio de Janeiro in 1969, returning to Curitiba in the following year.

In 1975, his first major work, Catatau, was published. It is an experimental novel, written in prose poetry, dealing with an imaginary visit of philosopher René Descartes to Brazil alongside Prince John Maurice of Nassau during the Dutch invasions of Brazil in the 17th century. Catatau would draw the attention of some of the most important cultural personalities of the time, such as Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Tom Zé and Moraes Moreira. In the following years he published chapbooks, and collections of his poems, the most notable being Caprichos e Relaxos and Distraídos Venceremos. Haitropikais was a co-collection of haiku) and related mini-texts . His second avant-garde novel, Agora É que São Elas, was published in 1984; however, it was not as well-received as Catatau.

Leminski was a polyglot; he knew French, English, Spanish, Japanese, Latin and Greek. He translated into Portuguese works by Petronius, John Fante, Alfred Jarry, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Yukio Mishima. An enthusiast of the culture of Japan, Leminski wrote a biography of the famous 17th-century haiku poet Matsuo Bashō in 1983. He also authored biographies of Leon Trotsky, João da Cruz e Sousa and Jesus Christ.

In 1988, after a 20-year marriage Leminski divorced Alice Ruiz, with whom he was working on his last poetry book, the exquisite La Vie en close, which appeared posthumously in 1991. Two other sequences of poems were included in his complete poetry, published in 2013, which became a true best-seller. It has sold over 200, 000 copies and has been prepared in English translation for publication in 2022.

Leminski was a heavy drinker, and died on June 7, 1989, of liver cirrhosis.



  • 40 Clics em Curitiba (1976)
  • Polonaises (1980)
  • Não Fosse Isso e Era Menos/Não Fosse Tanto e Era Quase (80 poemas) (1980)
  • Caprichos e Relaxos (1983)
  • Haitropikais (1985 – in partnership with Alice Ruiz)
  • Distraídos Venceremos (1987)
  • La Vie en close (1991 – posthumous; in partnership with Alice Ruiz)
  • O Ex-Estranho (1996 – posthumous)
  • Toda Poesia (2013); complete poems


  • Catatau (1975)
  • Agora É que São Elas (1984)
  • Metamorfose (1994 – posthumous)


  • Matsuo Bashō (1983)
  • Jesus (1984)
  • Cruz e Sousa (1985)
  • Trotsky: A Paixão Segundo a Revolução (1986)


  1. ^ "Paulo Leminski: Biography and Poems | Brazilian Poetry". Retrieved 2021-05-28.

External links[edit]