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The Indigenous Writing Project: Contemporary Guaraní Poetry

July/August 2020

Osvaldo Pitoe. Untitled (2020). Ink on paper.

Our July 2020 issue of contemporary Guaraní-language poetry marks the first installment in WWB’s Indigenous Writing Projectan ongoing series that seeks to publish writers working in the world’s many indigenous languages in direct translation into English. Though we have published indigenous literature throughout our seventeen-year history, the Indigenous Writing Project marks a sustained effort by the magazine to increase recognition of indigenous writers in the Anglophone world. In this effort, we have engaged experts and informants to ensure that literatures that live beyond the confines of Western culture are not unduly rendered through its prism or subjected to colonialist and nationalist discourses that seek to evaluate a literature’s worth in juxtaposition to writing expressed in the dominant language of the country or region from which it comes. Our advisors allow us to publish translations directly from indigenous languages into English and ensure that in so doing we respect the nuances particular to indigenous worldviews or to the frequently oral nature of these literatures.

In the current selection, we present poetry whose concerns range from the quotidian to questions of life and death, translated from various dialects of Guaraní into English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Alba Eiragi Duarte and Miguelángel Meza contribute work from Mbyá Guaraní, while Susy Delgado and Alberto Luna add work from Jopara; Damián Cabrera contributes prose poetry originally written in Portunhol Selvagem, a Spanish, Portuguese, and Jopara hybrid. Guest editor Elisa Taber contributes an introduction.

WWB would like to thank Susy Delgado, Alba Eiragi Duarte, and Miguelángel Meza for their translations from the Guaraní into Spanish and Delgado for her work as a cultural consultant providing expertise during the translation process. We also express our gratitude to translators Tracy K. Lewis, Susan Smith Nash, and Elisa Taber for their English translations from the original Guaraní.

Ñe’ ẽ: An Introduction to Contemporary Guaraní Poetry
By Elisa Taber
A real work of Amerindian literature makes perceptible another way of ordering and being in the world.
By Miguelángel Meza
water boils up from grouped stones, grips me.
Translated from Guaraní by Tracy K. Lewis & Miguelángel Meza
My Fire
By Alba Eiragi Duarte
At light of dawn I rise and make fire, / and dry in nascent fire-gleam the space where dew once pearled.
Translated from Guaraní by Tracy K. Lewis & Alba Eiragi Duarte
A hummingbird at sunset
Photo by Ramona Edwards on Unsplash
Our Father Is Tired
By Susy Delgado
a dark stillness / goes about sowing death.
Translated from Guaraní by Susan Smith Nash & Susy Delgado
By Alberto Luna
I alone / plunge my roots / and outstretch my branches.
Translated from Guaraní by Susan Smith Nash & Susy Delgado
By Damián Cabrera
Silvio wanted to escape, race across the sown fields with his long rhea legs until he reached some place where no one could see him.
Translated from Portunhol Selvagem by Elisa Taber