João Cabral de Melo Neto was born in the state of Pernambuco, Brazil, and is considered one of the greatest Brazilian poets of all time.
He is often quoted saying "I try not to perfume the flower". His works are said to be dry, devoid of exaggerated emotions that are usually associated with poetry, sticking usually to images and actions and physical descriptions rather than feelings. The image of an engineer designing a building is often used to describe his poetry. It usually follows a strict meter and assonant rhymes.
He worked as a diplomat for most of his life.
In 1990, he won the Camões Prize, the greatest prize in literature of the Portuguese language. In 1992, João Cabral received the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, which some consider to be almost as prestigious as the Nobel Prize.