1992 Neustadt Laureate - João Cabral de Melo Neto


Joao Cabral de Melo Neto“Cabral's project is to re-create the world, taking the things—both abstract and concrete—that are common to all men and turning them around, making them uncommon, conferring on them the dimension they lacked.” Richard Zenith, “The State of Things in the Poetry of João Cabral de Melo Neto” (WLT Vol. 66, Autumn 1992)

João Cabral de Melo Neto (1920-1999) was a Brazilian poet and diplomat. After moving to Rio de Janeiro in 1942, he published his first collection of poems, entitled Pedra do Sono. In 1947 he was assigned to his first diplomatic post in Spain, where he continued to write. Most of Cabral's life was spent as a diplomat, which afforded him the opportunity to travel the world. Through all of his travels, he continued to write poetry, and at the end of his life, he had published over fifteen collections. He is considered one of the greatest Brazilian poets of all time.

In his Encomium speech, then Editor-in-Chief Djelal Kadir said of the poet, “He practices a laconic art of deference in a poetry that curtails its own voice, as well as the ego of its author, yielding to the human context that links poetic vocation with daily life and worldly experience,” (WLT Vol. 66, Autumn 1992).

Cabral's body of work includes O Engenheiro (1945, “The Engineer”), O Cão Sem Plumas (1950, “The Dog Without Feathers”), A Educação pela Pedra (1966; tr. Education by Stone, 2005), and Sevilha Andando (1990, “Walking Around Seville”).

In addition to his Neustadt Prize, Cabral was honored with the 1990 Camões Prize.


1992 Neustadt Jurors and Finalists


Etel Adnan (Lebanon/France/USA) Habib Tengour (Algeria)
Vassily Aksyonov (Russia/USA) Bella Akhmadulina (Russia)
Zulfikar Ghose (Pakistan/USA) Christopher Middleton (England)
Güneli Gün (Turkey/USA) Orhan Pamuk (Turkey)
V. Y. Mudimbé (Zaire) Henri Meschonnic (France)
Makoto Ooka (Japan) Kenzaburo Oe (Japan)
Sergio Perosa (Italy) Andrea Zanzotto (Italy)
Elena Poniatowska (Mexico) Eduardo Galeano (Uruguay)
Alastair Reid (Scotland/USA) John Berger (England)
Silviano Santiago (Brazil) João Cabral de Melo Neto (Brazil)
Anton Shammas (Israel/Palestine) A. B. Yehoshua (Israel)

World Literature Today
630 Parrington Oval, Suite 110
Norman, OK 73019-4037

Updated by World Literature Today: [email protected]