By Luciana Leitão

“Does everybody know Sérgio Godinho?” The teacher and the students replied a cheerful “yes”. As soon as the famous Portuguese musician entered the room, the children started using the maraccas to mark the rhythm. “It’s two arms, it’s two arms, they serve to give a hug, while four arms serve to give two hugs,” they sang, replicating the rhymes from the Canção dos Abraços (Song of Hugs). The cheerful voices in unison marked the beginning of the session, which took place on March 13, at the Portuguese School of Macau, under The Script Road — Macau Literary Festival.

The auditorium was filled with children aged from six to nine years old, eager to listen to what Sérgio Godinho had to say. The author started by presenting his book for children and youngsters titled O Pequeno Livro dos Medos (The Small Book of Fears, in English). “Fears are something common to all ages,” he says. “If they throw us into the zoo, at the lion cage, they will eat us,” he added, to the sound of children’s laughter.

In a talk that travelled through his path as a writer and musician, Mr Godinho also mentioned his versatility in different genres, as he “is more known in Portugal for writing songs”, but he also has written short-stories, children’s books as well as, more recently, novels. “In songs, I have a music; there are rules in music. When I write for songs, I have to obey these rules, then there is the lyrics, which is the words from the music,” he mentions.  “In the song you sang, there’s a rhyme from hugs [abraços] with arms [braços], which is the simplest in the world.”

Sergio Godinho2

Image by Eduardo Martins

The author just launched his debut novel titled Coração Mais que Perfeito (More than Perfect Heart, in a free translation to English). As for the process behind it, he mentioned: “All of us, and you have written stories, make up people — these people are based in things that already have happened. When we write, we start from that imagination and we also write about things that have happened.”

Mr Godinho also mentioned his first readings, having been raised in a reading environment. “At my house, we read a lot […]; I started by reading The Five [by Enid Blyton],” he says. “Then, when I was an adolescent, I read other things, like Eça de Queiroz and others, who my parents loved.”

The question and answer

The audience was filled with curiosity and they kept raising their hands to ask a question. Some just wanted him to sing, while others were more curious about other things, such as knowing more about his first steps as a musician. “I started playing guitar at 15/16, but I sang songs written by others,” the musician answered. “At 24 I wrote my first one.”
Others were interested on music and the space music still occupies in his life. A little boy named André asked the reason behind his love for music. “Because we are born with it, by simply making beats on the table, you can make music,” the musician answered, while beating on the table, making the audience sing along.
There was one boy who asked about the number of times he had been in the territory. The author replied this was the sixth time, starting in the 1990s. “There were no buildings in Taipa, it was very different.” A student named Henrique went a little further: “Are you going to make any song about Macau?” “I did one already, after so many years coming here, I’ve done one for Ivo M. Ferreira’s film [Hotel Império].”
And many more questions would have followed, as the arms continued in the air. Time was up, but a song was in order. The chosen theme couldn’t be more suited: O Primeiro Gomo da Tangerina (The first Slice of a Tangerine, in English).