"I was born in the countryside in Pernambuco, on December 20, 1935. My father was a farmer and I helped him farm the land from the age of eight. It was not until the age of twelve that I attended school for the first time, but for just ten months when the only teacher moved away. The day I could write my name and read was a big event. My teacher was surprised by how fast I was learning. Since then, reading whatever I saw was my favorite way to spend my time. But in those days, there were no newspapers, magazines or radio where we lived. All we had for distraction were <i>cordel</i> leaflets. They took their name from the cords from which they hung at newsstands. They were inexpensive and often illustrated with a woodcut print on the cover. My father read these stories to his children. <br><br>"In 1952, due to a drought, my family moved to a city. I was then seventeen and have worked as a carpenter, peddler, wall painter, potter, and more. In 1956, I bought a lot of cordel leaflets and began to sell them at popular fairs. <br><br>"In 1964, I wrote my first cordel leaflet, ?The Encounter of Two Cowboys in the Petrolina Hinterland,' and got it illustrated by an artist named Dila. In two months, I sold five thousand copies. For my second leaflet, I couldn't afford a cover illustration and decided to do it myself. It was my first woodcut and depicted the facade of a church. <br><br>"Looking back at those years, I feel very grateful for what life has given me. For a very simple man with only ten months of schooling, being recognized sand honored in Brazil and elsewhere was incredible. But my great joy and luck was meeting Ariano Suassuna, a great writer who made me known made me known all over Brazil and abroad. Another person I enjoyed meeting and working with was the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano for whom I made 185 engravings that illustrate his book <i>Walking Words</i> <br><br>"Even so, I don't take advantage of that fame to charge high prices for my work. I want it in the homes of mason, carpenters, farmers, and not only in the homes of the rich. <br><br>"With my woodcuts and cordels, I was able to raise my eighteen children. I like what I do and have taught my technique to my sons and apprentices. It is a way to perpetuate my art. I want to work for as long as I am healthy, and to enjoy life." <br><br>J. Borges's woodcuts have been exhibited in a number of countries in Europe and Latin America, as well as in the United States, in museums, galleries and cultural events. <br><br>He was awarded the Order of Merit by Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso In 2002, he received the UNESCO award in the Educational / Cultural Action category and was chosen to illustrate the United Nations annual calendar, where his woodcut "Life in the Forest" opens the year. <br><br>In 2006, he was featured in the <i>The New York Times</i>. The writer Ariano Suassuna considered him the best popular xylographer in the Northeast. J. Borges was declared a Living Heritage by the State of Pernambuco. <br><br>In addition to Eduardo Galeano's <i>Walking Words, </i> the artist also illustrated Nobel Prize-winning author Jose de Sousa Saramago's book <i>The Lizard</i>.