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October 2005

Jaguar Tongues

From dreamscape to reportage, from transcendence to outrage, these works from the indigenous languages of the Americas represent WWB's first foray into literary archeology, placing ancient works like "The Opening of the Mexican Cantares" alongside those of contemporary writers working in the old traditions, such as Auldárico Hernández's "Dreamhouse." While some of the new read as if written centuries ago, Juan Gregorio Regino's Mazateco chant in many parts among them, "Nothing Remains Empty," others are surprisingly modern, like Humberto Ak'abal's surrealist poem "The Moon and The Feather" or Marcos Matías Alonso's devastating description of life in Mexico City "Dreams and Memories of a Common Man."

Our heroic guest editors, Earl Shorris and Sylvia Sasson Shorris, begin their extensive table of contents with essays on language, followed by poems, stories, fables, and two descriptive articles on aspects of ancient culture still in existence, one Náhuatl and the other Maya.

In the tradition of passing on the legends, folklore and wisdom of our elders from one generation to the next, the stories, poems and essays in our October issue have been shared from one language to the next. Many of the pieces written in the indigenous languages represented here, among them Comanche, Purépecha, Yucatecan Maya, Náhuatl and Classical Náhuatl, Zapoteco, Mazateco, Mixteco, Mazahua, Ñahñu, K'iche', and Tztotzil, were originally translated into Spanish and then rendered in English by Earl and Sylvia Sasson Shorris.

A rebozo photographed in black and white.

By Mónica Morales. License: CC by 2.0 Access at: