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Articles tagged "Villages"

The Silent Steppe by Mukhamet Shayakhmetov

The Silent Steppe: The Story of a Kazakh Nomad under Stalin is a vivid, personal story of courage and hope in the face of persecution and terror. It breathes new life into a neglected chapter of European history, and should prove useful for Cold War research and socio-cultural anthropology studies. Famine, conscription into the Red Army, the defense of Stalingrad . . . author Mukhamet Shayakhmetov is a remarkable survivor, bolstered by a strong faith. He is now in his eighties. His...

Three Poems

For the English translations, please click here. Gled Stanes watching the riding to open Scotland's parliament ceased 25 March 1707 resurrected 1 July 1999 thur is nae stane whaur the gled soars, nae gled whaur the stanes staun nor it thair cobbled feet, nae king tae reign ees braid high street whaur nowt but smirr croons a castlehill nae burnin weemin wish they'd drooned an the shuttered shops kin sell nae claith whiles nae tea or snuff is taen...

Three Poems

For the English translations, please click here. Criffel tae Merrick In this poem, two of the region's hills speak to each other. When a vehicle was needed for telling the story of Foot and Mouth, the hills seemed appropriate; they are very ancient, stand above the population and span the length of the region from East to West. Merrick speaks in Scots and Criffel speaks in English. Criffel, ye're greetin! Tell me o yer sadness. Whit's wrang? My eyes...

Stick Out Your Tongue by Ma Jian

When Stick Out Your Tongue was first published in China in 1987, one commentator denounced it as a "vulgar, obscene book that defames the image of our Tibetan compatriots," and Ma Jian's works were banned forevermore in the country. The remaining copies of the serialized novel were traded on the black market for exorbitant sums. Its English translation, published almost twenty years later, brims with lurid details that might shock Western sensibilities as well. The narrator, a...

The Noodle Maker by Ma Jian

The pace of change in China over the last fifteen years has been extraordinarily fast; the pace at which its literature reaches us in translation shamefully slow. Chinese dissident writer Ma Jian is already known in the English-speaking world for his award-winning travel memoir of rural China in the 1980s, Red Dust. Since the Chinese takeover of Hong Kong in 1997, he has been living with his partner and translator in London. The Noodle Maker, the first of Jian's novels to appear in...

The Paths

Note: This poem was originally written in Mazateco. All paths arrive at the only road that exists. In the darkness only mystery is transparent. No one answers, silence too is a way to scream, and I go screaming. Originally published in Nuni, año IV, número 9, México.

School

Note: This poem was originally written in Yucatecan Maya. And the ants that sing, laugh, dance and play in circles, began to cry. She was born a woman, one on whom they threw boiling water when she appeared in the kitchen1. You will go to school. You will not be an empty head. You will cross over the threshold of your imagination enter you own house and not have to knock at the door. And contemplating a face that resembles yours you will discover that from your...

Six Variations on Love

Note: These poems were originally written in Zapoteco. I Love comes heavy like a weight one cannot long carry without cursing. II Love is a feather in the air. Although it is also the sun. It rises and falls. Comes and goes. III Love is honey that flows from the tree, the juice of tender corn generous in the dawn. The juice that flows in the intimate garden of a woman. IV Love is the flower of the fig tree, nagual1 of the iguana, hand...

The Owl

Note: This poem was originally written in Yucatecan Maya. The owl is here. He perches on the wall. And meditates. Whose death does he announce if no one lives in this village? The fossils of the people do not cross to either side. The tombs in the cemetery paint the moon that has begun to chew the underbrush. The owl rehearses a song to life. It refuses to presage its own death. Originally published in Nuni, año IV, número 9 p. 20.

Chants

Note: This poem was originally written in Mazateco. I Four hundred zontles in the distance. Four hundred leagues toward infinity, light, darkness, shapes. The voice of the wise man reaches far, the singer, the cleanser of pains. Among the divine images. Among the earthly images. The gentle voice is heard, His divine song, his pious prayers. He crosses life's path, he arrives at ndabua isien1. There he converses, There he discusses, there he disputes, the gods...

The Zapotec Language

Note: This poem was originally written in Zapoteco. They say that the ancient Zapotecs came down from the clouds. The center of the sky was their home. Very old men, very old women and a great number of children came with them. Upon arriving in this world, they found it a bit empty. They saw nothing but brush, flowers with thorns, small wild animals and some birds; although there was an abundance of fruit trees. These people did not know how to speak, they only...

The Vampire Bats

The vampire bats and I were waiting for the coming of the night to play with the stars on the patio of the moon. For the next poem in this sequence, click here.  

Laziness

Note: This piece was originally written in Purépecha. There once was a man who was very poor, but also indolent. He tried hard to survive, by cutting firewood in the countryside and by selling it, in order to resolve his family's economic problems. At least, that was what he said. But the truth was that, although he did go to the country every day, he returned to his house empty-handed. One day, he went to the hills as always, and when he arrived at his usual spot, he saw a...

The One Who Went to Learn to Lie

Note: This poem was originally written in Zapoteco. There was someone in the old days, they say, who wanted to learn to lie. That's what he told his father, who answered, "I will send you to the professor of liars in our village, and we shall see if you can learn." And when he got to the maestro's place, he said to him, "We will see if you have the vocation. We will begin immediately. Do you see the ants fighting over there on the hill?" "No," said the apprentice. "I cannot...

My Encounter with Xtabay

Note: This piece was originally written in Yucatecan Maya. It comes from a very small publication in a part of the Yucatán peninsula still very close to the area dominated by groups that remain organized in the fashion of the ancient Maya, when the peninsula was divided into areas controlled by the Xiu and Itzá, the latter influenced by the Toltec culture. The group that lives in the less accessible areas of Quintana Roo still uses the military designations: captains, etc....

La Pesicola

"As you see, that was how our Creator lived, He who created everything and He who created man. He never walked like men. While he lived on earth, He always kept himself holy. He never sinned despite the lashing he received from men. Now that He is resting beside His parents, He is found to be much more holy than before. As you reflect on your actions, you will see yourselves that many things you do are not done as God commands. We are not trying to use this to get rid of your customs. On...

Who Are We? What Is Our Name?

Note: This poem was originally written in Zapoteco. To speak, to say yes to the night; To say yes to the darkness. With whom to speak, what to say if there is no one in this house and so alone, I hear the cricket's wail? If I say yes, if I say no, to whom do I say yes, to whom do I say no? From whence came this no and this yes and with whom am I speaking in the middle of this darkness? Who put these words on paper? Why is it written on the paper instead of writing on...

Escape From Death

Note: This piece was originally written in Purépecha. Don Nicolas used to get up early every day to the sound of the birds singing. Although the cold bothered his eyes, he quickly got dressed, and before the sun appearred, Don Nicolas, followed by his faithful dog, El Tizne--Grimy--took off for the hills. Once on the mountain, Don Nicolas harvested corn and beans, while his dog El Tizne chased squirrels the entire time. That dog was never still. Now I want to relate what...

Juan and Xtabay

Note: This piece was originally written in Yucatecan Maya. The author, Miguel May, is a personal friend. He lives in Mérida, Yucatán. His family still lives in a small town not far from the city. Although they speak Yucatecan Maya eloquently--along with such people as Eleuterio Póot Yah who was the major informant for the late Munro Edmunson--they like to travel. They are highly sophisticated people who love their own language and culture. When Miguel May visited with...

The Story of Naxá

Note: This piece was originally written in Mazateco. Naxá, the daughter of Ts'uí and Sa, was deeply in love with a young campesino named Xungá, who lived in one of the most humble huts in the village. For the first time Naxá felt the need of a companion, to know she was loved and cherished by someone other than her parents, because she had reached puberty. She was an only child-her parents were very busy-and she spent a lot of time alone. She amused...

Origins of the Indians in the New World

Note: This poem was originally written in Zapoteco. It was first published in Valencia, Spain, in 1607. Fray Gregorio had heard the story from Zapotecs. The work is a fragment. The name 1-deer, referring to two gods, is probably a calendrical. Mesoamerican thinking is dualistic; gods generally have both male and female forms. In the time, in the day of darkness and gloom, before the coming of days or years, the world being in darkness, when all was in chaos or confusion, the...

Memories

Now and then I walk backwards. It is my way of remembering. If I only walked forward, I could tell you about forgetting. This last poem in this sequence was originally published in Guchachi 'Reza' 'Iguana Rajada,' Revista de la Casa de la Cultura de Jugitin, Oaxaca, pp. 49-50, Quinta Epoca, Primavera de l995.  

Opening Poem of the Cantares Mexicanos

Note: This poem was originally written in Classical Náhuatl. It is the first poem in the group known as the "Cantares Mexicanos." The Náhuatl title is "Cuicapeuhcáyotl", which León-Portilla translates as either "the start or beginning" or in a second sense, which means "the origin of the songs." The series of poems were written down in the Roman alphabet by Nahuas, whom we know as Aztecs, under the guidance of Fray Bernardino de Sahagún in the 16th...

The Lemon Seller

Note: This poem was originally written in Zapoteco. To travel the seas of silence becoming nothing in the foam as if the body could have no meaning. The eyes attached to a ship, and the fate in the balance meets itself like a pendulum at the extremes. To lose one's self in a painting by Matisse that the blind man showed us by the shape of the paper. To make this journey like one who remains in a drawing and never returns. Originally published in La Palabra...

Chatty Girl

Note: This poem was originally written in Zapoteco. My chatty little girl: pile up your words, cut your words into pieces and anoint me with them to see if they can soothe the pain I feel now. My chatty little girl: I do not ask you for potions or unguents, Neither witches nor doctors. Only your little words know how to cure me. But if you do not agree, my chatty little girl, then they themselves would now begin, to prepare my mortal tomb. Originally published in...

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