Goiás Velho, Brazil

The Life and Work of a Marginal Writer


Cora's street
Rua Dom Cândido, the historic street in Goiás that leads to the house where Cora Coralina lived.
silhouette and poem
A resident of Goiás Velho rests on a bench in front of the house-museum of Cora Coralina.
The Candy Kitchen
The large pots and pans used by Cora Coralina to make sweets that sustained her for some time in Goiás Velho.
Memories of Goiás
Decorated wall of Cora Coralina's house in Goiás Velho.
Illuminated Capoeira
Children practice capoeira by the light of one of the old lamps in Goiás Velho.
Cora and Jorge Amado
Photograph by Cora Coralina visited by Bahian writer Jorge Amado.
Cora's secretary
Cora Coralina learned to type at the age of 70.
Itinerary in the Centuries
Colonial street of Goiás Velho, with the houses that miners built as they earned money from gold mining.
Notes of Life
Manuscript by Cora Coralina exhibited at the house-museum in Goiás Velho.
Cora's Room
Cora Coralina's room with several of her dresses and religious artefacts.
youth image
Old photograph by Ana Lins dos Guimarães Peixoto Bretas.
A Facade Walk
Passerby from one of several streets of all colors that cross Goiás Velho.
Photography & Crutch
A photograph of Cora Coralina, an elderly woman, sitting in her chair in the house in Goiás Velho.
Gold Chimera
Buriti palm trees create silhouettes against the sun setting west of old Goiás.
Born in Goiás, Ana Lins Bretas spent most of her life far from her castrating family and the city. Returning to its origins, it continued to portray the prejudiced mentality of the Brazilian countryside

We left behind a rehearsal of regional dance from Goiás, in search of the home-museum of the writer Cora Coralina.

We walked down the irregular sidewalk towards Praça do Rosário. A dusty sweeper, somewhat ghostly, walks with a straw broom over his shoulder, undecided on where else to sweep and harassed by the all-too-frequent passage of the colorful Volkswagen Beetles that seem to patrol the old colonial city.

We see improvised windows in the windows of the houses. We enter one of the establishments to peek at the merchandise. The plump maid leaves the frame in which she enjoyed the action in the street.

Give us an effusive welcome. Soon, it guides us through the profusion of candied, sweetened and bagasse fruit, among golden pies and other specialties from the surrounding cerrado, prepared with dedication on the stoves of hers and friends of hers.

For many years, Aninha da Ponte da Lapa was known as Ana Lins dos Guimarães Peixoto Bretas – she stood out from the batch of these virtuous confectioners.

Candy kitchen, Cora coralina, Goias Velho, Brazil

The large pots and pans used by Cora Coralina to make sweets that sustained her for some time in Goiás Velho.

Old Goiás. The Home Sweet Home of Cora Coralina

At 67 years old, widow and with four children of the couple, she returned to her single family's house, one of the oldest in Goiás, located on the banks of the Vermelho River since the XNUMXth century.

It returned to arousing intrigues and whispers, but it came to be appreciated by the most open minds of the city also for the excellence of the sweets it made and sold.

We come across his charming green-white home at the end of Rua Dom Cândido, on the verge of the wooden bridge that crosses the stream below. We examined the inscription on an acrylic plate that mentions the former resident “…People who pass by indifferently, look from afar, around corners, at the falling beams. What is the house worth to them? …

silhouette and poem, Cora coralina, Goias Velho, Brazil

A resident of Goiás Velho rests on a bench in front of the house-museum of Cora Coralina.

We felt the observation hit the side but, intrigued, we entered the now house-museum with the purpose of getting to know its eternal owner better.

After the reception area, the interior seems to have remained as Ana da Ponte left it. A portrait in reading posture appears behind a chair. The chair supports a crutch and even suggests its presence in the simple room, tending towards Spartan.

photography and crutch, Cora coralina, Goias Velho, Brazil

A photograph of Cora Coralina, an elderly woman, sitting in her chair in the house in Goiás Velho.

In the kitchen, huge copper pots arranged in an organized way prove the time dedicated by Ana da Ponte to cooking.

In the tiny room decorated only with light and simple dresses, a typewriter (Ana learned to type at age 70) and several manuscripts attest to her almost religious passion for reading, for creating prose and poetry.

Cora secretariat, Cora coralina, Goias Velho, Brazil

Cora Coralina learned to type at the age of 70.

Cora Coralina's Unacademic But Very Literary Past

Despite her short schooling – she attended only four years, all with the Master-School Silvina Xavier de Brito – Ana Lins began writing her first texts at the age of 14 years.

Shortly thereafter, she assumed the pseudonym that she kept until the end of her life: Cora Coralina.

He published his writings in the newspapers and magazines of the Villa Boa de Goyaz and from other cities in this state and also from Rio de Janeiro. In 1907, she and three friends were already running “A Rosa” a literary journal that regularly featured her work.

Cora manuscript, Cora coralina, Goias Velho, Brazil

Manuscript by Cora Coralina exhibited at the house-museum in Goiás Velho.

At that time, Ana Lins started to attend the gatherings of the “Clube Literário Goiano” based in one of the halls of the house of Dona Virgínia da Luz Vieira. The place would inspire him the poem “Old Sobrado”.

Descending from a family with tradition, the young writer used her easy and impulsive expression to defend the disadvantaged classes of the society in which she grew up.

With both his prose and poetry, he defended the value of washerwomen, street women, among others.

old photography, Cora coralina, Goias Velho, Brazil

Old photograph by Ana Lins dos Guimarães Peixoto Bretas.

In “Becos de Goiás” he denounces the repressive attitude of the police and the men of the city towards prostitutes and even accuses those directly responsible for the city for the excessive abuse of their power.

In “Coisas de Goiás” he considers and promotes Maria Grampinho as the symbol of women classified among the “good people” as crazy.

Ana Lins – or, we can also use her pseudonym – Cora Coralina – was concerned and, in a way, identified with the marginality of those characters.

Cora and Jorge Amado, Cora Coralina, Goias Velho, Brazil

Photograph by Cora Coralina visited by Bahian writer Jorge Amado.

Cora Coralina: On the Margins of His Family. On the Margins of Sociedade de Goiás Velho

Ahead of the time in which she lived, she always felt unloved by her mother and sisters. It would not take long to be ostracized by the Vilabo society and to feel the discomfort of its oppression on the skin.

Everything started when he was 20 years old and he got involved with the lawyer Cantídio Tolentino de Figueiredo Bretas, a previously married man with children in São Paulo, the new Chief of Police of Goiás.

After several meetings in literary gatherings and others, more intimate, Ana Lins became pregnant. Her mother tried to stop the romance. She forbade her to meet Cantídio.

Dissatisfied as usual, Ana Lins asked Maria Grampinho for help, who facilitated the couple's escape to the state of São Paulo.

memory of goias, cora coralina, goias Velho, brazil

Decorated wall of Cora Coralina's house in Goiás Velho.

They lived in the municipalities of Avaré; and Jabotical for 45 years. During this period, they had six children. Two of them died shortly after birth.

Shortly after moving to São Paulo, the couple was caught by the São Paulo revolution. He was forced to spend a few weeks locked in a hotel.

The determination to participate in political destinies was in Ana Lins' genes.

Eight years later, she enlisted as a nurse, the most honest and practical way she could find to participate in the Constitutionalist Revolution of 1932, triggered during the first presidency of Getúlio Vargas.

Cora Coralina's Difficult Widow and Return to Goiás Velho

Two years later, her husband Cantídio Vargas died. Ana Lins had to resort to a series of commercial initiatives to survive: she sold books door-to-door, opened a boarding house and a retail house.

As her granddaughter Ana Maria Tahan recounts, “In Andradina, she opened the Butterfly House, which sold a little bit of everything to women. “At that time, I was climbing on platforms to appeal to the photo in the UDN (National Democratic Union), a political movement with an academic origin and soul.

In 1956, with his children raised, he decided to return to Goiás, also because he needed to regain legal possession of the bridge house, which a nephew was about to take over for possession.

Cora Cora Cora Cora, Goias Velho, Brazil

Cora Coralina's room with several of her dresses and religious artefacts.

When he managed to do so, Ana Lins lived in it with the company of “Seu Vicente”, an illiterate but docile, dedicated and handyman from the Northeast who, as her granddaughter also recounts, “he even got drunk with guaraná”.

It was only when she was approaching ninety years old that Brazil discovered her as a writer who challenged the prejudices of life in the interior that enchanted Carlos Drummond de Andrade and Jorge Amado.

Inside the house on the bridge we find the image of the writer from Bahia visiting Cora Coralina. And the quote from one of the letters that Drummond de Andrade had sent him: “(…) I admire and love you as someone who lives in a state of grace with poetry. His book [Poemas dos Becos de Goiás and other stories] is a charm, his lyricism has the strength and delicacy of natural things (...).

Cora Coralina died in 1985. In a short time, the author and her house became strong cultural references in Goiás and Brazil.

Rua de Cora, Cora Coralina, Goias Velho, Brazil

Rua Dom Cândido, the historic street in Goiás that leads to the house where Cora Coralina lived.

To visit it, countless excursions by restless students and individual visitors cross the Lapa bridge.

Some travel from as far away as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro.

Or, like us, across the Atlantic.

Illuminated capoeira, Cora coralina, Goias Velho, Brazil

Children practice capoeira by the light of one of the old lamps in Goiás Velho.

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