Creative writing: from blue pencil to red carnations

Next 25th April, we will celebrate 48 years of the Revolution.

After four decades of living under a dictatorship regime, being a country closed to the world, without freedom of speech and expression, with high rates of illiteracy, and people living in poverty, on 25th April 1974, we started a democratic regime with an incredible revolution, where the soldiers used carnation in their guns.

There is still much discussion about the Revolution and who has the right to celebrate it. But this is not a political statement, a statement of right or left positions – I just know how my parents lived during those years and how I live now.

But, today is to talk about the writers and the musicians of those times. The regime had censorship police, and the artists had to be very careful about their messages – any message against the government could mean jail, exile, or the end of a career.

“Blue pencil” – the pencil’s color with which the censor crossed out the censored part of a text – was known to all, and hundreds of works were banned.

There were a list of forbiden writers that included Herberto Hélder, Miguel Torga, Natália Correia, Alves Redol, Aquilino Ribeiro, Vergílio Ferreira, among others. Even the Brazilian writer Jorge Amado and the existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre were forbidden readings in Portugal.

Can you imagine this? People could go to jail because of the books or their music at home.

Anyway, those hard times highly stimulated the artists’ imagination and inventiveness to pass their message and avoid the famous pencil, or even worse. Therefore, creative artists used subtleties to escape police surveillance. This was their way of resisting.

So, we inherited the most beautiful and creative texts of our literature and arts from that dark period of our History. I highly recommend you to read those authors.