Slam Poetry: Putrid Nation [VIDEO]

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This slam video is the latest contribution to our year-long reporting project, “Rooting Anti-Racism in the Favelas: Deconstructing Social Narratives About Racism in Rio de Janeiro.” Follow our Rooting Anti-Racism in the Favelas series here.

Putrid Nation is a slam video—video-art in monologue form, presenting a poem by the same name recited by the author himself, Marcos Vinicios de Souza. With a critical approach, the poem Putrid Nation tackles the reflexes and consequences of structural racism and of hygienist public policies aimed at black favela residents. Based on the author’s journey and life experience—being male, young, black and living in a favela—the poem features chronic social issues faced by favela residents, such as paternal absence and police violence. In the form of poetic narrative, the video lays bare contemporary themes experienced by black youth living in peripheries through the structure made popular by slams, which have taken over the world’s peripheries and favelas.

Marcos Vinicios de Souza, author and interpreter of the poem, and Saulo Nicolai, creator and director of the slam video, grew up together in Morro do Fogueteiro, in Central Rio which, as they recall, was considered a dangerous favela when they were both children, in the 1990s and 2000s. Souza and Nicolai were children who survived offenses ranging from abuses at the hands of public authorities to duress by local traffickers, being constantly put in a position to make difficult life choices. Years later, the two young adults met again through art and launched partnerships geared toward independent artistic expression with the resources they had at their disposal.

Slam Video: Putrid Nation utilizes the language and aesthetics of the slam movement from around the country’s favelas using the forms available to convey these territories’ everyday and cultural realities.

Transcription of the Slam Poem ‘Putrid Nation’:

Putrid Nation, by Marcos Vinicios

Enough from the well-off.
For I can no longer look at these paintings.
Painted with the red blood of black skins.
And deny that with every bashing I get
I don’t know if the worst is yet to come, you get it?
Every time they stop me it’s a bullet to the head.
Making me forget there’s goodness in the heart.
What takes over is hate.
I always feel like I’m last on the podium.
And it makes me believe that every scramble was in vain.
Every battle, so much grief.
Every time that I woke early to struggle
Sons of Ustra, they want me gone.
Consult the opinion polls, it makes it easier to kill.
But to them it’s super “chill”
It won’t come out in the newspapers.
It’s just a stat to add up.
And where are you?
Nation that bore you
Son of Brazil
The whore that stayed, and the ass**** that’s gone.
And a kid left behind.
Back to back, or black.
But it’s all the same to them. like Tim Maia that went and never came back.
And nullified his own future, with one or over 80 punctures.
Stitch the wound when each one of us is gone.
Enough jazz, I want peace to become our reality.

Watch the Slam Video Here:

About the director: Saulo Nicolai is a visual artist and social activist with a degree in film directing from the Darcy Ribeiro Film School, born and raised in Morro do Fogueteiro. As a photographer, he has had works shown in New York art galleries, at São Paulo’s Lasar Segall Museum, and Rio de Janeiro’s Museum of Modern Art in 2016 and 2019. As a filmmaker, he received his first award at age 12 writing the script for the short What’s Up: An Adventure in Morro dos Prazeres. He is a member of the Favelagrafia collective and won two Bronze Lions in 2017 at the International Festival of Creativity in Cannes in the categories entertainment and design. 

About the slammer: Marcos Vinicios de Souza is a dancer, photographer, filmmaker, producer and actor born and raised in Morro do Fogueteiro. He began his artistic journey at age 15 through dance. In the audiovisual arts, he attended the CriaAtivo Film School, permeating various forms of expression to record and tell his story and the stories of those around him.

This article is the latest contribution to our year-long reporting project, “Rooting Anti-Racism in the Favelas: Deconstructing Social Narratives About Racism in Rio de Janeiro.” Follow our Rooting Anti-Racism in the Favelas series here.

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