FLUPP Favela Literary Festival is a Hit in Mangueira

The success of the third edition of the festival, with over 20,000 people in attendance, is proof that favelas are also good spaces for discussing and creating literature.

The third edition of Flupp: Literary Festival of the Urban Periphery (called “Literary Festival of the UPPs” in its first editions) took place this month in the favela of Mangueira. The festival ended November 16, and paid homage to the centenary of the birth of activist and poet Abdias do Nascimento. Mangueira, known for its famous samba school and the poetry of Cartola and Nelson Cavaquinho, was the setting for the festival’s vast, impeccably planned five-day program of events.

According to Julio Ludemir, one of Flupp’s founders, people who say that favelas are not places for books and culture are mistaken. “I am always surprised by the quantity of people at Flupp. I always think not enough people will come. This festival always exceeds my expectations,” said Ludemir, who works in partnership with Ecio Salles in the creation of the festival.

This third edition of Flupp was a special one, full of innovation. A slam-poetry competition was launched this year, in which participants had up to three minutes to defend their work without the use of audiovisual materials, props or costumes. The success of the performance depends solely on the slammers’ command of the spoken word. The slam competitions kept the festival’s main venue (Quilombolismo tent) energized throughout the five days of the event.

For Mangueira resident José Carlos, 19, the arrival of Flupp in the favela was extremely positive. “I am really enjoying the event. I think it’s really important for the community,” he said. Alexandre dos Santos, 31, also spoke highly of the festival. “Favelas are not just places of violence and confrontation. It’s important to see Mangueira in the news for hosting a cultural event like this,” said Alexandre, also known as the Paulista Journalist, or “king of the hill,” while he filmed the event.

On the penultimate day of the festival, Saturday November 15, attendees were not deterred by the rain and completely filled the Quilombolismo tent venue to watch a performance by the dance company Cia Na Batalha. This was followed by a panel discussion called “A Jam Session in Paris,” chaired by Ludemir. The panel brought together the writer Koffi Kwahulé from the Ivory Coast and Velibor Colic, a Bosnian journalist, to talk about their experiences as expatriates living in France.

Inspired by Flip (Paraty International Literary Festival), the largest literary festival in Latin America hosted in the southern Rio state historic town of Paraty, the third edition of the Flupp Festival reaffirmed its strength and showed how favelas are spaces for creating and discussing literature. The event was originally labelled ‘exotic’ or ‘different,’ for bringing international writers to favelas whose residents were assumed not to speak their own language well, let alone be interested in literature (a prejudiced assumption held by many). Now the festival has an ever-increasing number of followers and each new edition attracts an ever larger number of authors and fans.