Together with the brothers Lourival Batista, Dimas Batista, and Otacílio Batista; José Alves Sobrinho; and others, Zé Limeira represents the cream of the Northeast Brazilian repente (musical and lyrical improvisation).
The mythological character Zé Limeira is sworn to have never existed. He was one of a kind: the only surrealist cantador (minstrel). His poetry only came to the present day due to the research of the writer and lawyer Orlando Tejo, resulting in the book Zé Limeira, Poeta do Absurdo (Zé Limeira, Poet of Absurd). Notwithstanding, Zé Limeira's influence is conspicuous in the oral tradition and the popular poetry of the Northeast Brazilian cantadores, and his legend reached mainstream pop music. Nicknamed "the Poet of Absurd" due to his verbose poetic constructions as well as his creation of improbable neologisms, this illiterate bard invented a caustic and dry surrealism that puzzles literary critics. His repente "Martelo Alagoano" was recorded by Lula Cortes and Zé Ramalho on the LP Nordeste, Cordel, Repente e Canção, a compilation of repentes released in 1975. Ramalho also paid tribute to an apocalyptic/scatological Limeira in his song "Visões de Zé Limeira Sobre o Final do Século XX," included on his Força Verde (1982). The Quinteto Violado used one of his neologisms as the title of their LP Pilogamia do Baião (1978), quoting Limeira in the back cover. And, later, Mestre Ambrósio had a smash hit with "Se Zé Limeira Sambasse Maracatu."
Having had as an education of only the oral tradition of northeast Brazil, in which a mystical Christianity shares primacy with medieval tales of saints and cavaliers, emanations from the Arab and Iberian cultures, and Greek and Brazilian mythology, Limeira melted all these elements in his abnormal, ebullient mind, adding a scathing pornography into it. On top of that, he never respected either the significance of the idiom nor the tones of the syllables. The word was a mere handful of clay in his maddened fingers. In his chaotic way, Limeira was a true stylist and knew how to capture the historical and mythical references of the hinterlands. Those who lay hands on his poetry cannot help unleashing the collective unconscious which leaps from the paper in arid realism.