Note: This poem was originally written in Zapoteco.
I am like an otter
when he crosses the rivers
and the sea,
I do not need a ship to sail.
Poetry From the October 2005 issue: Jaguar Tongues
Pancho NácarPancho Nácar
Pancho Nácar is the pseudonym of Francisco Javier Sánchez Valdivieso, a Zapotec poet born in 1909 in Juchitán, Oaxaca. He published a few poems in Zapoteco during his lifetime, but after his death in 1963 his collected works were published and translated into Spanish. An annual poetry prize is named for him.
Translated from SpanishSpanish by Earl ShorrisEarl Shorris and by Sylvia Sasson ShorrisSylvia Sasson Shorris
Earl Shorris was a prominent social critic and author. His works include Ofay; The Boots of the Virgin; A Novel of Pancho Villa; The Death of the Great Spirit; The Oppressed Middle: Scenes From Corporate Life; Latinos: A Biography of the People; and New American Blues: A Journey Through Poverty to Democracy among others. He was the coeditor of In the Language of Kings: An Anthology of Mesoamerican Literature, Pre-Columbian to the Present; The Life and Times of Mexico; and While Someone Else Is Eating: Poets and Novelists on Reaganism. He was a contributing editor to Harper’s, and his essays and articles appeared in the Nation, the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, American Educator, the Antioch Review, and many more publications. He founded and chaired the advisory board of The Clemente Course in the Humanities; and cofounded—with Howard Meredith and members of the Kiowa, Cherokee, Chickashaw, Maya, Nahua, Lakota, CYup'ik, and other tribes and nations—the Pan-American Indian Humanities Center at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. He died in May of 2012.
Sylvia Sasson Shorris is the author of Talking Pictures: With the People Who Made Them and co-editor of While Someone Else Is Eating: Poets and Novelists on Reaganism and In the Language of Kings: An Anthology of Mesoamerican Literature Pre-Columbian to the Present. She has published articles in The Nation, Chicago Tribune, Fork Roads, and Review (a publication of the Center for Inter-American Relations), and has been a translator in Mexico for Luis Montes Film Distribution, and in New York for 20th Century-Fox Film Corporation.
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