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Brazil commissions poetry blog, minus the poets
Forbes’ Kenneth Rapoza writes about the Brazilian government’s controversial commissioning of a “million dollar” poetry blog. The R$1.3 million ($783,000 USD) isn’t going to a poet or literary organization. The recipient is singer Maria Bethânia, who will use the platform to interpret poetry in song through a daily series of videos. There’s no question that Bethânia, sister of Caetano Veloso, will draw an audience; with a career dating back to her first single in 1965, she’s considered one of the greats in Brazilian music and she has a track record of working with poets and reading bits of her favorite poetry on her albums. But much of the debate surrounds whether this is really the right way for the government to support Brazilian poetry.
[Mônica] Bergamo’s column in [Folha de Sao Paulo] went viral, sending the Brazilian twittersphere a flutter. Their argument was not that poetry didn’t deserve recognition. Sure it does, and who better than a name brand musician to do just that? Maybe, they argue, a rich and famous singer like Bethania does not need government money to start a blog.
The Cultural Ministry responded late Wednesday by saying that the singer would be receiving that money, but added that a large portion of it would be coming from the private sector. Under Brazil’s audiovisual laws, investors or companies can deduct a portion of their taxes by investing in cultural incentives.