Cordel Literature

Free Cordel Literature Workshops & Demonstrations! 

Workshop: December 14th at 2pm – 1849 Providence St. NE – Washington DC 20002

Demonstration & Exhibit: December 14th from 12-4 – Monroe Street Market NE – Washington DC 20017

Workshop: November 24th at 2pm – 1849 Providence St. NE – Washington DC 20002

Bring your stories and pictures and learn how to produce inexpensive community-based publications!


This July, a Provisions team traveled to Brazil to research Cordel Literature (or “string literature”), a popular publishing tradition of pocket-sized booklets featuring distinctive graphic covers and containing poetic verses  on political, social, and cultural issues are sold in markets, fairs, and street vendors. Cordel Literature has been active for over 150 years in Brazil, with roots in the troubadour traditions of Portugal and Europe. Our two-week research trip on Cordel Literature explored the cover art of these booklets–designs made using xylography– woodcut carvings, and writing on topics ranging from politics, romance, political events, religion, recipes, and the mythic outlaw– Lampiao.  The team visited Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Caruaru, Olinda, Tracunhaem, and Goiana, meeting with artists, scholars, merchants, and researchers of Cordel Literature, and visiting archives, markets, fairs, and libraries where the books are stored and sold.

Based on research, Provisions and Floating Lab Collective will co-create a mobile print workshop and curriculum for producing Cordel Literature with various community groups in DC and beyond. The curriculum will source collective knowledge on issues like politics, economic diversity, analog and digital narratives, and provide a mechanism for publicly displaying and circulating this knowledge to and across communities. Research and works with various communities in DC, across the region, and abroad will chart memories, myths, and values in the current age, mobilizing intergenerational participants. The project will assemble research and document community actions through its unique process of deploying popular wisdom and street literature as a means for social change, empowerment, and open communication on-site and online. The Floating Lab’s step-van, The Floating Library, will be outfitted with printing resources and collective print production tools, and serve as an ongoing resource for print workshops through DC and beyond.

Recent article in Hola Culture.
Two videos from the Brazil trip:


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