Words Like Love. Tanaya Winder

© Photo by Viki Eagle

Tanaya Winder is a poet, writer, artist, and educator who was raised on the Southern Ute reservation in Ignacio, CO. An enrolled member of the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe, her background includes Southern Ute, Pyramid Lake Paiute, Diné, and Black heritages. Tanaya writes and teaches about different expressions of love: self-love, intimate love, social love, community love, and universal love. She attended college at Stanford University where she earned a BA in English and the University of New Mexico where she received an MFA in creative writing. Since then, she has co-founded As/Us: A Space for Women of the World and founded Dream Warriors, and Indigenous artist management company. She guest lectures, teaches creative writing workshops, and speaks at high schools, universities, and communities internationally. @tanayawinder ~ https://tanayawinder.com/

5 poems from Words like Love. West End Press New Series, 2015

PDF version

dear moon
hallow out my memory to a tree trunk
turned canoe so I may sail away from
the sea of you, waiting, ready to burst
into Milky Way. indistinguishable pieces
every time my mouth opens to encircle
your name but my lips dare not
form the shape.

reflections of the moon
in the beginning, Earth yearned for a companion, the Sun,
someone to share in the gifts: land, water, and
life. even light needs balance, darkness, death
to understand the push pull, days
echoing continuously. so, Earth gave an offering
to the sky, to become the Moon.
ever since, the Sun dreams growth
believing we would know – love intertwined
with loss if only we would look up each night.
but, we buried Earth’s sacrifice, caught in
our own wayward wanderings.
the stars aren’t the only ones capable of falling

the weight of water
When I first arrived into this world, I flew
on ancient winds. I was born into a creation story.
Long ago, my great great great grandmother met
her other half. He, too, flew on winds, then as one of
many grains of sand – each split in half looking
               for the other. Back then, humans were only spirits
searching for connections. Long ago, a single grain found
another, my grandmother. So, they asked the Creator
for bodies, to know what it was like to touch each other.
They did and foresaw their child would die in birth.
            So they prayed – Save her, each sacrificing
something in return. The man entered the spirit world
as a horse and the woman opened herself up
from the center to give him a piece of her
            to remain connected.
In the middle of the desert
there is a lake created out of tears. Long ago
there was a mother with four daughters:
North, East, South, and West. Once they grew up
each daughter left to follow her own direction.
Saddened by this loss, the mother cried
so intensely the skies envied her ability to create
such moisture. Days turned to months, months to
years and tears gathered in salty pools that gravitated
towards each other’s weight. Unable to release
her bitterness, the mother turned to stone.
Today, the Stone Mother waits.
Come back to me my children.
Come back to me.

broken/ pipelines
if we
            cannot even love                                                                      our land
            how can we love                                                                      each other
            how can we love                                                                      our/selves

for the murdered & missing Indigenous women on Turtle Island
Not when or where but how, did we lose you,
in between Last Seen _____ the words become elegy
echoing sidewalks and streets. Hand out your picture to
strangers. Post it on Post Office bulletin boards: Missing
as if it were destination, a place one goes
to disappear in invisible cities. Except there’s no hero like
in the movies. No ads, mainstream coverage, or TV shows
to show our story. Are we invisible if no one knows, why?
When 1,181 women were taken, did eyes cease to have vision
or pay attention to a body being swallowed up?
Those left behind who remember you continue on a mission,
an endless search of the cities in which we loved
(and love) you. We will never forget. We demand for you
action, words, even a poem that ends: your lives matter, too.

About the translators

© Photo by Elena Lehmann

Judith Santopietro was born in Córdoba (Veracruz, México), though she was also raised between Ixhuatlán del Café and Boca del Monte, communities in the Altas Montañas to which her family belongs. Her mother tongue is Spanish; nevertheless, she has learned Nahuatl for political reasons and to honor her foremothers. Judith holds a Master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She has published the books Palabras de Agua (Praxis, 2010) and Tiawanaku. Poemas de la Madre Coqa (Orca Libros 2019). She was awarded the Lázara Meldiú National Poetry Prize in 2014 and was a finalist for the International Literary Prize “Aura Estrada” in 2017.  She has published in the Anuario de Poesía Mexicana2006 (Fondo de Cultura Económica), Rio Grande Review, La Jornada and The Brooklyn Rail, and has also participated in numerous festivals, including PEN America’s World VoicesFestival in Nueva York, 2018. ~ @judesantopietro

© Photo by Elmaz Abinader

Kim Jensen is a Baltimore-based writer, poet, educator, and activist. Her first experimental novel, TheWoman I Left Behind, was a finalist for Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year. Her two collections of poems, Bread Alone and The Only Thing that Matters were published by Syracuse University Press. Kim’s articles, essays, poems, and stories have been featured in numerous publications, including Electronic Intifada, Mondoweiss,Extraordinary Rendition:Writers Speak Out on Palestine,Gaza Unsilenced, The Baltimore Sun, The Oakland Tribune, and El Humo. In 2001 she won the Raymond Carver Award for short fiction.She is professor of English and Creative Writing at the Community College of Baltimore County where she is the founding director of the Community Book Connection, an interdisciplinary literacy initiative that demonstrates the vital relationship between classroom learning and social justice in the community. 

TED talk by Tanaya Winder

The Woven Colors of Tenaz

By Alejandro Padilla a.k.a  Supay Kayampa (Illapa Iriwari)

Ecuador, a country in South America crossed by volcanoes, mountains, rivers, lakes and the Ekuator, the equator, is small in area, but immensely diverse. Its flora, fauna, colors, and cultural landscape, as well as  its people, history and memory make this small land a space for fusions and mestizajes. Ecuador is a country that is not set apart from mass communication media and the new socio-cultural paradigms of contemporary modernity. Of note is the fact that the historical struggle of Ecuador has always been for territory,  for memory, language, and the traditional use of basic resources such as water and land. In Otavalo, a small territorial division in the Imbabura province of northern Ecuador, the Peguche community can be found. Peguche shelters, nurtures, and sustains indigenous peoples, or better said, Runas (human beings in Kichwa). Among them, one in particular, who with colors and stains on the walls has perfected Hip Hop grafitti through the creation of works of hyperrealism in spray paint. Under the pseudonym or street name Tenaz, Álvaro Córdova tattoos the urban skin, and his murals can be found today throughout the country. 

Álvaro Córdova discovered his gift and love for drawing at an early age and came to know that drawing and colors represent life and are a driving force for his foundation as Runa. In these contexts, Tenaz continued to build his identity from the place that he inhabited and his belonging to native peoples, who have historically occupied the lowest rung in the social hierarchy and caste within the structure of the State and the citizen. At least  this was true until the national indigenous uprising of the 1990’s, a milestone from which indigenous peoples, men and women, have been considered to be active social actors. The case of the otavaleños is special because they have been able to carry the Runa cosmovision to the entire world through the commerce of their artisanal crafts. They have traveled abroad,  taking with them their traditions and bringing globalization and mainstream practices back to the communities.

At the same time, Influences such as Hip Hop, a counter-hegemonic and cultural movement that was born in the ghettos of New York in the 1970’s, began to gain power and acceptance throughout the world as a rebellious shout against the establishment. This is how  gringo Hip Hop arrived and gained its place throughout Ecuador and all of its communities. Hip Hop was inserted into the social struggle and gave voice to those who did not have a voice. Hip Hop is a universal language that uses musicality and the transmission of ideas through artistic mechanisms as its starting point. These mechanisms include the MC, who relates the facts and events, rapping in rhyme; the graffiti artist and writer who outwardly express their ideas through paint, color, and distorted letters; the DJ, or musical architect; bboy or bgirl; and the dance code that belongs to Hip Hop. And then there is the fifth element- the knowledge that assembles all of these pieces and contextualizes them within a historical- social process and a struggle based primarily in race and class.

Tenaz was able to find Hip Hop through his search for his own individual identity and his quest to earn his place in his community. His respect for his ancestors is visible in his personal aesthetic  expressed in the braid woven into his long hair. For him, the braid is the form through which he connects himself to Mother Earth, remembering and respecting from whence he came. He does not wear the traditional clothing of Otavalo, such as a hat and white pants. Instead, he follows the aesthetic codes of Hip Hop: an oversized t-shirt, wide pants  covered with paint, headphones to listen to music, and sometimes a cap. Graffiti has allowed this young man from Peguche to bring together two things that are part of his basic structure: his passion for painting and drawing, and his indigenous memory and cosmology. During our conversations, he says in passing, “Never forget where you come from and where you are going,” a phrase that has strong connotations for understanding the territorialities and spaces that he inhabits and passes through.  This feature of remembering and looking forward is particular to the murals he creates and can easily be de-codified in his writing. The hyperrealism that gives expression in his murals nearly always depicts real people from distinct indigenous communities and his polished technique allows the images that are represented through color, line, and the cosmogonic to stand out and call the attention, as much of the general citizen as of those who are members of the Hip Hop culture. For Tenaz there is no greater sensation than to see people in front of his murals, especially the elders from the community who smile when they see our Kichwa culture pictured on the walls. “That happiness is contagious, it spreads and motivates.” What Tenaz’ eye evokes is somewhat unexpected since those who are adept at Hip Hop have always been considered to be marginal and delinquent, due to their critical rebellious stance. Despite this, Tenaz, through his compositions and murals, demonstrates just the opposite and exemplifies how it is possible for a symbiosis between Andean and Hip Hop to exist.

It is indispensable to him that the art that he creates  be in the streets and that the walls of the public spaces be the platform for his murals. Everyone, without exception, has the opportunity to see his work and generate a feeling response in the face of whatever captures the walker’s eye. The muralism that Tenaz puts forth is popular and within the reach of anyone. Even so, he has received proposals to do his work on canvas and perhaps to sell paintings, but these would not be within the reach of just anyone, and that is not what Tenaz is after.

Hip Hop, with its rebellious outcry,  blends with the emergent and local circumstances. From the realities that are particular to each population, Hip Hop will provide the elements that will allow peoples to continue to fight. Cases like the Otavalo community, in which they call out the “Rap Shima” (the word in Kichwa for language) and rap the lyrics in their mother tongue, Kichwa, renew Hip Hop and reveal its primary function: to convert itself into a collective voice of the oppressed, the subalterns, the others, that they may be heard and that they may transform their imposed urban reality and retain their relationship with nature, with the volcanos, the lakes, the waterfalls and Apu (the spirit) of their guardian mountain, Imbabura. This is what is manifested by Tenaz and the grafitti to which he has forged himself by choice and develops with great dexterity. 

His actions as an indigenous graffiti artist and part of the Hip Hop culture make him reflect upon his greatest fear. He suggests to us that this fear has always been that he would lose the opportunity to continue painting, that death will snatch away the chance to transmit the memory of his people and his love of staining with color.  He reflects that the technical aspects of graffiti are secondary and can be learned. Doing things from and with the heart is fundamental for Tenaz and his crew, Soberanos (SBRNS), who are native to Peguche.

Peace, Unity, Love and Leisure

Alejandro Padilla a.k.a  Supay Kayampa (Illapa Iriwari). Active militant of the Hip Hop culture, researcher and activist from the social sciences and the andean cosmogonic world. Equinoxial Runa, who sees in representation, imaginary and told, a need to awaken memory, remember who we are and what our role is in this world where the past and present co-exist and feed one another. Tenaz was part of the circuit of guests on the radio program, Nunkeii Zulu, a collective which he belongs to that seeks, through Hip-Hop, to propose and incite structural change in the society of Quito.


Tenaz Grafitti – SBRNS runas de Peguche – Otavalo, Ecuador.

Adriana Paredes Pinda ~ Water Hummingbird. Selection of poems

Adriana Paredes Pinda is a Mapuche-Huilliche indigenous poet from Osorno, Chile. She has published  Ül (2005) and Parias Zugun (2014), and many of her poems also appear in poetry anthologies such as Hilando en la memoria (2006) and 20 poetas mapuche contemporáneos (2003). Her poetry has been awarded literary prizes as well as several scholarships. She is also an academic who teaches at Universidad Austral de Chile and a machi, a Mapuche shaman that heals using remedies, teas, prayers, songs and dances. 

Her poetry brings her ritual knowledge to her poems. For example, her poem “Sanación” (“Healing”) focuses on the experience of a young Mapuche woman who is sick physically and spiritually because she has moved away from her community. As a result of this separation, this woman harbors deep internal anguish about her state of being split between two cultures: the Mapuche and Chilean cultures. The inner division of this woman is caused by cultural loss and assimilation to the wingka or non-Mapuche culture. Therefore, it must be the Mapuche machi who goes in search of the missing half of her spirit through a machitún, a healing ritual that restores health, and that is performed in this poem. She writes in Spanish, but her poetry is profusely inhabited by words in Mapudungun and concepts from the admapu, the mapuche traditional norms and practices. In the poem “Sanación” there are many words in Mapudungun interspersed within a text written in Spanish, such as names of plants and herbs (foye, palke), musical instruments (trutruka, pvfvllka, trompe), among other important elements of Mapuche tradition. 

“Lenguas secretas” (“Secret tongues”), another of her poems, stages a ritual performed on the top of a mountain that the poetic subject must do in order to get in touch with the “language of the land”, literal translation of “Mapudungun”. Hence, the poem describes how the evening ceremony is urgent: the spirits will help overcome language barriers that separate the subject who is speaking from the Mapuche community it wishes to belong to. In the end, the poetic voice affirms that in order to fully join the community one must be receptive to the language of the ancestors, and the ritual makes this union possible in this poem. In her poetry Paredes Pinda brings awareness to the Mapuche historical struggle for recognition of their lands and their rights in Chile. In the selected fragments of Parias Zugunshe looks to stress the cyclical nature of events in Mapuche history and the need to restore the land’s equilibrium and end the destructive actions of forestry companies. (ANDREA ECHEVERRÍA)

is what is missing. Laurel cleanse these airs,
clear the paths.
The one that guides me
throws foye in the shadows, a moon
erupts biting the spirits. She will say when.
Meantime I have the smells,
I wake up with my nose stuck
to the watershed,
the dream’s lick.
Fuchotu fuchotu
pieyfey tañí ñaña
amulerkeita pu chollvñ mamvll.
The girl will sing her old song if she knows
the mother of her root, if she fills her mouth
with healing herbs. Coltsfoot
for the sorrow that spills
in asthmatic cough through the chest, palke
for the feverish head without trarilonco,
matico will heal the scar of childbirth
when the light comes.
Now her eyes are stuck in cement,
there are no maternal moons in the buildings,
no sun comes in, no air or fire.
The girl will have to do machitún.
The wood’s buds
push on their tongues,
a pewen of aroma in childbirth.
Her spirit had left, they say.
We made campfires with a full moon for her home,
her arms did not want Mapuche that’s why her sorrow,
but she surrendered with foye
while we sang. Trutruka,
pvfvllka, ancient trompe with raulí
to make her fall in love.
A boy asked for her return,
so that we would get rid of the black dogs.
The girl did not want to be kidnapped 
in another world, but her heart was broken
in two
that’s why the grief and white lice.
We ask the little mother to knead the split
where she died. Then came good smells,
Treng-Treng’s earth filled her hands,
returned the spirit of the sick girl
because the mother went looking for it.
“I had to go look for it where it got lost.”
Something is missing from this house –they told me.
Therefore it will be necessary to inhabit it,
the old tiger is on the prowl.
Pu aliwen.
Open the muttering rooms, let him
take what is his. Get on
the secret pulses.
Let the fire come, consume us in its living embers
the smoke, the millenary secretions.
I allow you, old tiger, to comb my hair.

Secret languages
The machi said it, do not repeat it.
She was in a trance. Go
to the mountain to wait for the language of the earth
to also open for you.
We will go to the hill when the full moon,
we will sing to you there. The only way:
to listen to the spirits at dawn.
If the rafts of death did not take the girl
it was for a reason. That the dream took her,
it does not release her anymore. She has to keep dreaming.
The spirits appear, only some
can enter the lagoon.
Let the warrior of luminous braids watch out.
They take her suddenly. We do not see her anymore.

I am the one with the late-night hair
wet and urgent in the rain
of lost nguillatunes.
The ashes unearth the light of my insides,
the tigress kneads her incarnation among the hot
mountains. I howl in boldness
to gallop on the last star of my blood
on the world’s palm.
Burn lost moon,
I came to the mountain to suck your heart. I will not
go in the whiteness of your breath.
I am the one who flies with three fingers,
who sings fire from her kona’s mouth.
I have been well appointed
the other root.
Twelve knots has the birthsnake,
tremble wuinkul.
And there were twelve dreams for your twelve nipples.
Giving birth to
the omens of the kultrung in your body. Your legs
extended to the beds of the Bio-Bio,
one of those who knew resistance.
The dark one was abandoned of snow,
half-spirit, half-flesh
returns death forward 
to weave the metawe of origin
that was sung blue. The skin
of the Mapuche has the writing.
I was given the words
like a volcano that burns and bleeds. Memory
of unlearned alphabets.
The nipples of time spawned,
fertile were the lands until dawn
when I knew
that my hand was not the writing.

They call you in rauli and alerzaria tongues 
Treng-Treng is falling
Why do you not listen to the children?
Plant cinnamon trees for the time of the buds.
Grandmother grandfather,
the wuinkul falls in front of
my mother’s house.
They are going to look for the power at the mountain,
the marshes only allow some.
The pastures are too thin for you.
The woman carries the music,
the one whose spirit
was taken by the bird.
Grandmother grandfather,
I'm going to Quinquén to see the snow,
to hatch your broken dream,
before it goes silent
I’m going alone.
Apochi küyen mew
Kuze fücha
Ülcha weche
the snow is green.

They call you in rauli and alerzaria tongues

Treng-Treng is falling
Why do you not listen to the children?

Plant cinnamon trees for the time of the buds.
Grandmother grandfather,
the wuinkul falls in front of
my mother’s house.

They are going to look for the power at the mountain,
the marshes only allow some.

The pastures are too thin for you.
The woman carries the music,
the one whose spirit
was taken by the bird.

Grandmother grandfather,
I’m going to Quinquén to see the snow,
to hatch your broken dream,
before it goes silent
I’m going alone.
Apochi küyen mew

Kuze fücha
Ülcha weche
the snow is green.

Three fragments of Parias Zugun

.. lukutues foliles srayenes
all the stone’s writing 
at Txem-Txem’s moldering back 
in ominous suspicion
that voracity of burning nipples
usurped litanies
of when the great snake Txem-Txem
still reigned
and he had a warm embrace
because his leather was
live ember 
of the living
the seeds sang in his hands
kissed them
with his breath of all the forests
alerzales foyehuales
languages and languages all blossomed
in the puelche’s primary caress. . . (33-34)


…If my Genechen language
does not twist
my already frayed skin
–’I looked for it and did not find it’–
the language of the great love
running the tongue over
Txem-Txem’s lacerated back 
the language of the great love
the kallku language 
the despised
‘Come and see the blood of the forestry companies’
–Forests in coals ablaze– 
–Iñche ta zugun– (36)


…Tree language
one can hear it roar in the languages of the sea
the heartbeat of the hushed lament
                                  –and in a spiral I go singing-
–Kay Kay zugun-
it looked at me
the snake
its eyes
wormwood honey
they said the infinite
–give me the uncertain
give me the flame
solsticious and fatuous
I am the aroma in which the people get lost
murta and pennyroyal
the language that cheats. (112)


  • Nguillatun: Great Mapuche ceremony.
  • Kona: Young warrior.
  • Wuinkul: Hill.
  • Kultrung: Ritual drum used by the machi or Mapuche shaman.
  • Metawe: Small vessel or pitcher.
  • Fuchotun: To perform a cleansing ritual with the burning of medicinal plants.
  • Foye: Sacred autochthonous tree, also called canelo.
  • “Fuchotu fuchotu / pieyfey tañiñaña / amulerkeita pu chollvñ mamvll”: “Ritual, Ritual / that’s what the aunt said / she’s walking / in search of new plants”.
  • Palke or palqui: Shrub whose leaves and bark have a medicinal use.
  • Trarilonco: Woven ribbon that is used as an ornament on the head.
  • Machitún: Rite of healing officiated by the machi.
  • Pewen: Fruit of the araucaria.
  • Ruka: Mapuche house.
  • Txutxuca or trutruka: Wind musical instrument.
  • Püfülka: Wind musical instrument.
  • Trompe: Small metallic musical instrument.
  • “Pu aliwen”: “My tree”.
  • Kvtral or Kütral: Fire.
  • Treng-Treng (Txem Txem) and Kai Kai (Kay Kay): The mythical account of the war between Treng-Treng and Kai Kai explains the origin of Mapuche society. Treng-Treng is the serpent of the earth that fought against Kai Kai, the serpent of the sea.
  • Genechen or ngenechen: Divine creator or Mapuche Supreme Being.
  • “Apochi küyen mew / amutuan / Kuze Fücha / Ülcha Weche”: “With the full moon / I go / Elderly Man Elderly Woman / Young woman Young man”. Kuze, Fücha, Ülcha and Weche form the divine Mapuche family that survived the mythical war of Treng-Treng and Kai Kai.
  • Lukutues: Mapuche anthropomorphic symbol representing a kneeling man. It is usually incorporated into the fabric of the female girdle (or trariwe).
  • Foliles: Roots.
  • Srayenes: Flowers.
  • Ilwen: Dew.
  • Zugun: Language or tongue.
  • ‘Inche ta zugun’: “My language”.
  • Champurria: Mestizo.

About the translator

Andrea Echeverría is an Assistant Professor at Wake Forest University. She has published a book on the work of two Peruvian poets titled El despertar de los awquis: migración y utopía en la poesía de Boris Espezúa y Gloria Mendoza (Paracaídas Editores & UNMSM, 2016), and several articles on Mapuche poetry, ritual and memory. She is currently working on a book project on contemporary Mapuche poetry and visual arts.

More about Adriana Paredes Pinda

From Cantos de amor al lucero de la mañana in LALT

More about Forestry and Mapuche Land Rights in the Walmapu / Chile

The land is our mother

Utshimauat / The Masters, by Josephine Bacon

Ambassador for indigenous cultures, Joséphine Bacon is an innu writer from Pessamit, on the coast of the Saint Laurence river, in the territory now known as Québec, in Eastern Canada. Bacon writes in her native tongue, Innu-Aimun, and in French. From 2009, she has published four bilingual books of poetry and collaborated on a number of anthologies. Two books of poetry have been translated into English: Message Sticks: Tshissinuatshitakana (Translated by Phyllis Aronoff, Mawenzi House Press, 2013) and A Tea in the Tundra / Nipishapui Nete Mushuat (Translated by Donald Winkler, Bookland Press, 2017). She has also written scripts for two films (Ameshkuatan, Les sorties du castorin 1978 and Tshishe Mishtikuashisht, Le petit grand européen: Johan Beetzin 1997), as well as collaborating on various television programs. For years, she has worked with elders to try to preserve indigenous languages and ancestral traditions as well as with young indigenous artists to foment artistic creation. She has won a number of distinguished prizes at the provincial and national level.

The poem “The Masters” comes from her first book, Bâtons à message / Tshissinuatshitakana published in 2009 by the Quebecois publisher, Mémoire d’Encrier. The message sticks from the title are pieces of wood that nomadic Indigenous groups from that area would position on their paths to leave messages for others who might be passing through the same place. In the book’s preface, Bacon says: “My people is rare, my people is precious, like an unwritten poem. / The elders have fallen silent, leaving us the echo of their murmuring…” (Translation by Phyllis Aronoff). With select and precise words, Bacon’s poetry renders explicit the undeniable relationships between Indigenous people, nature, territory and the spirit world.

Nimichumat nejanat nuitamakutiat :

“Tshitatshakush puamuishapan
eshkueja inniuin.
Shash petamushapan assinu tshitei.”

The ancestors told me:

“Your soul dreamed long before you.
Your heart heard the land.”

Tshitei uitamu
anite uetshin

mamitunenim tshitatshakush
uin an ka minishk
anite tshe ituten,
eshkueka inniuin.

Your heart tells
where you come from

think of your soul,
it gave you the source
before birth.

Papakassiku, Atikuapeu
tshin ka pagushuenimikuin,
nimititen meshkanau anite

etat Missinaku
uin nika ashamiku
kukamessa shiueniani

nika tshishunak
tshetshi minukuamuian,

Ushuapeu takushiniti
uin nica uitamaku

etati Tshishikushkueua
uin ja tshitapamikuiaku
ute tshitassinat.

Papakassiku, Atikuapeu
the one we wait for,
you lead me to

who will offer the lake trout
of our land, and if

I’m cold,
will keep me warm
in my sleep

will take me away close to

she who watches over
the beating of the land
in my heart.

Alanis umenu

Uetakussiti shakassineu pishimu
nuamapamau ukaumau ka mitshetushet
e minat peiku
auassa pakushenitamunnu

innitsheuau mamitshetuait
anite shipit
anite ut kuepitak

uin mukutshissenitamu
nete tshe ishi-shatshituaunit
tshetshi uinipekunipekakuiaku
natutuakut kashkanat.

For Alanis, my mother

On a night of a full moon,
the mother of so many children
gives new hope
to a child

an image gives
a multitude of colours
to a river
diverted from its place
of birth

it alone
knows its course
to the sea that rocks us
on the waves of sleep.

Utshimauat © Joséphine Bacon (Innu-aimun). From Bacon, Joséphine.  Bâtons à message/Tshissinuatshitakana. Montréal : Mémoire d’Encrier, 2009.

The Masters © Phyllis Aronoff (English translation) from Bacon, Joséphine.  Message Sticks/Tshissinuatshitakana. Aronoff, Phyllis, Trans. Toronto: Mawenzi House, 2013.


Phyllis Aronoff. Born and bred in Montreal and educated at McGill, UQAM and Concordia (MA in English literature), Aronoff translates fiction, non-fiction and poetry from French to English, working solo or with co-translator Howard Scott. She has translated a dozen books and served as president of the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada. She has received a number of awards for her translations including the Governor General of Canada Prize for Translation in 2018.


© Le Devoir. 2018
© La Scena Musicale Team. 2018.

Paula Maldonado: “To draw is to continue a pending conversation…”

© Hummingbird Hut. Paula Maldonado. Pen, ink and watercolor with digital intervention. 2019.

In the words of the artist:

“For some time I have found myself living in Leticia, Amazon, where I have carried out creative workshops with diverse communities and participated in the development of experimental spaces and strategies for learning about indigenous thought and language. Presently, I am working with a research group that includes native artists and thinkers, upon an android game(app)for learning the Tikuna language

© Muu. Paula Maldonado. Digital Drawing, 2019.

…For me, “to draw” is to continue a pending conversation, a strategy to trick thought, a territory where I can exercise my right to appropriate myself and transform something in the world, however small it might be, a path, infinite and ever open towards the unknown…”

© Mawü. Dialogues with Yuca. A digital drawing which refers to a performance under the same name in the Museum at the Colombian National University Bogota. Paula Maldonado. 2018.

Paula Maldonado studied Philosophy at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and earned a Master’s in Aesthetics and history of the Paris 8 (Saint Denis Université) with the thesis, “Clichés de América, la impresión de los imaginarios del poder” (Clichés of America. Printing of the Imaginaries of Power). She has worked as a teacher, researcher, curator and coordinator of seminars and workshops in different settings. She is particularly interested in the multiple links between art and cosmopolitics, Latin American art, anthropology of images, postcolonial studies, community-based pedagogy, and transdisciplinary and collective creation.

Language Revitalization Collective Projects – Colombian National University Amazonia

Native Languages Lecture Series: Language is Spirit.
Colombian National University Amazonia. February 10, 2018.

Marga B. Aguilar Montejo: U Juum u T’aan Koolnáal / The Voice of the Campesino

Marga Beatriz Aguilar Montejo is a Maya Yucatec writer from Sotuta, Yucatán (Mexico), author of the play U wáayilo’ob xLetra / Las brujas de xLetra, published in the anthology Nuevos cantos de la ceiba. She studied at the Itzamná Municipal Academy of the Mayan Language in Mérida, and the Center of Fine Arts in the Yucatan Peninsula, where she was part of the first class of graduates in Creative Writing in the Mayan language. The Voice of the Campesino is her first book of poems. Aguilar first wrote the collection in 2017 in the Maya Yucatec language, and self-translated the poems to Spanish. I thank the poet for allowing me to translate and publish the first poem of her book here. (Melanie Walsh).

In the prologue of U juum u t’aan kolnáal / La voz del campesino, Martha Aracelly Ucán Piña writes:

“Words have the power to break the boundaries of time and space; a poem can transport us to the entrails of the mountain, to the middle of the milpa, along paths and roads, between the waves of the sea or to the depths of underground waters. This is what happens in U juum u t’aan kolnáal / La voz del campesino, where Marga Aguilar puts together a series of eight poems in Maya; a rhythmic and metaphoric language, rich in epithets, images and synesthetic contexts, that stimulates sensations we cannot stop exploring. In these texts, the original poet of Sotuta is composing an atmosphere through images, flavors, smells and sounds of the countryside, based on the knowledge inherited from her parents and grandparents. Beyond an intention of reminiscence and nostalgia for ancestral knowledge about peasant work, the poet reaches a voice that vivifies the elements. In revitalizing her tradition, she is anxious to learn as well as to reflect about the cyclical sense of the country life.”


Iik’ ku yáalkab tu jobnel k’áax,

ku báab ich k’áak’náab,

ku xik’nal tu ka’anlil pu’uko’ob,

ku yéemel,

ku xíimbal,

ku síit´ tu ba’paach baatsilo’ob ku k’ayko’ob payalchi’ob ti’ u yuumtsilo’ob,

leti’ u juum u t’aan.


Wind that blows through the entrails of the mountains

that swims in the sea,

that flies above the hills,

that descends,

that walks,

that leaps around families who sing prayers to their gods

that, is the sound of his voice.


Ich k’óoben naj tu suutubaj t’aan,

junjump’íitil yóok’ol xamache’

tu tséentubáa yéetel u tuuch chaanbalo’ob,


súut u wíinklal bey waaje’

ka janta’ab tumeen ixi’im wíinik,

tu núupuba’ob juntúulil utia’al u múul tséentuba’ob,

je bix le x-much’koko’ mix bik’in kun kíimik,

u chichmachmubáa ti’ lu’um,

u balmubáa yéetel jay tuunich,

táan u paa’tik yáax nukuch cháako’ob

utia’al u ka’a síijil tu ya’axil le’ob,

tu k’ank’anil nikte’ob, tu chakjole’enil chúuk yéetel tu booxil éek’joch’e’en.


In the kitchen it became word

little by little upon the comal

it fed from the bellybutton of babies,

they gave it life;

it took the form of a tortilla

that was eaten by the man of corn,

they became one-to survive,

like the x-muuch’ kook plant that will never die,

refuged in the earth,

protected by the stone,

waiting for the first rain,

to be reborn in the green of leaves,

in the yellow of  flowers,

in the red of  ember and in the black of night.


U juum u t’aane’, u k’aay xk’ook’ jejeláas u juumo’ob,

ku tóop’ol ich kaajo’ob mixbik’in u kíimlo’ob,

tu’ux ku tsikbalta’al k’aajlayo’ob ti’ jko’oko’ xikino’ob

ku cháachko’ob tsikbalo’ob ku xik’nalo’ob ka’an.


His voice, song of the nightingale in many tones,

that sprouts in  eternal towns,

where stories are told to restless ears

that catch stories flying to the heavens.


Xíimbal t’aan ku k’uchul tak k’áak’náab,

jit’bil t’aano’ob chi’ichnako’ob u puluba’ob báab,

nu’ukulil chu’ukul kay pu’ul ich ja’;

ts’áanchakbil chakchi’,

tsajbil bu’ul kay, tsaja’an ich ta’ab,

t’aano’ob ku chu’ukul ich k’áaknáab.


Traveling voice that arrives at the sea,

woven words anxious to swim;

fishnet thrown in the water;

chakchi’ stew,

fish fried beans, fried in salt,

those words fished from the sea.


Yooxol ja’ ku payalchi’ chúumuk k’iin,

kali’ikil u xíimbal yéetel u xúul,

tun julbe’entik loobita’an t’aano’ob.


Evaporated water that prays at midday,

while it walks with its sower

resowing wounded words.


Lu’um ku ka’a ts’iik u yaal ku ka’apúut kuxtal,

ku nojochtal u juum u t’aan,


táan u ch’áajal yóok’ol le lu’uma’,

ku ka’apúut kuxtala’.


Fertile land that germinates once more,

voice that grows,


it’s dripping,

over this land,

that germinates once more.


U juum u t’aane’, loobita’an báalam,

kabalchaja’an báalam,

tusa’an báalam,

kíimsa’an báalam,

ka’a síijnal báalam,

kalaanta’an báalam,

payalchi’ta’an báalam,

kili’ich báalam.


His voice, jaguar wounded,

jaguar depleted,

jaguar deceived,

jaguar murdered,

jaguar who is reborn,

jaguar taken care of,

jaguar worshipped,

jaguar sacred.


U juum u t’aan koolnáal

iik’ ku yalkab tu jobnel k’áax,

ku báab ich k’áak’náab,

ku xik’nal tu ka’anlil pu’uko’ob,

ku yéemel,

ku xíimbal,

ku síit’ tu ba’paach baatsilo’ob

ku k’ayko’ob payalchi’ob ti’ u yuumtsilo’ob.


The voice of the campesino

is the wind that runs in the entrails of the mountain

that swims in the sea,

that flies above the hills,

that descends,

that walks,

that leaps around families that sing prayers to their gods


Melanie Walsh received her B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Asheville in Spanish and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She translated The Voice of the Campesino as part of her Senior Capstone in Spanish, a project which sparked an interest in pursuing translating and interpreting in the future. She is currently working on producing an album and a creating a zine of her own poetry.

Fernando Pomalaza: For the Love of Art

Fernando Pomalaza studied drawing and painting at the Escuela de Bellas Artes de la UNCP de Huancayo (the School of Fine Arts at UNCP at Huancayo), the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes de Lima (the National School of Fine Arts at Lima, Peru), the Art Students League, the New School of Social Research, and the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop in New York, USA. He has lived and worked in New York since 1978 and has participated in International Art Fairs and individual exhibitions in Perú, the United States, Europe, Australia, Japan, Singapore, and China. In his own words:

“I have been making collages since 1981, always experimenting and discovering new possibilities, mixing different materials in a spontaneous way. The colors, textures and artistic values of the pre-columbian cultures and popular art of my beloved Peru have a great influence on my collages. Collage allows me to express my inner world, my experiences and knowledge of the past and the present while envisioning the future.”

© Condor Marka. Fernando Pomalaza

The artist introduces this series of collages thus:

“The collages which I share in this opportunity pay homage and recognition to my teachers who, at some juncture, freely offered me their friendship and shared their experience and knowledge without interest in personal gain – FOR THE LOVE OF ART.  These works are for those who are no longer among us, but whose spirits live on in my memory and heart: Alejandro González (Apu Rimac, Escuela de Bellas Artes de la UNCP Huancayo, Perú), Carlos Galarza Aguilar (Escuela de Bellas Artes de la UNCP Huancayo, Perú), Hugo Orellana Bonilla (Escuela de Bellas Artes de La UNCP Huancayo, Perú), Miguel Ángel Cuadros (Escuela Nacional Superior de Bellas Artes de Lima), Leo Manso (The New School of Social Research New York), Sidney Simon (The Art Students League of New York), Robert Blackburn (Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop New York). FOR THE LOVE OF ART is a series of collages in a small format (mixed media) which uses acrylic as a medium for fusion and preservation, along with  materials that have been found and gathered from the city’s streets and walls. The pieces in the series are essays in collage form, an expression of a visual poetic; of a dialogue with the materials, a search for and reaffirmation in art and life- Trying to find sense in the era of cultural whirlwind in which we live.”

New York, January 18, 2017  

To learn more about the artist

Ashok Jain Gallery, Nueva York

13 poems by Joy Harjo

The work of Joy Harjo (Mvskoke, Tulsa, Oklahoma) challenges every attempt at introduction. Singer, saxofonist, poet, performer, dramatist, and storyteller are just a few of her roles. Somewhere between jazz and ceremonial flute, the beat of her sensibility radiates hope and gratitude to readers and listeners alike. For example, from Harjo we learn that the opposite of love is not hate, but fear. Several of her books, such as How We Became Human, The Woman Who Fell From the Sky, and She Had Some Horses are now classics in both English and World Indigenous Literature. Harjo has recorded five original albums, including the outstanding Winding Through the Milky Way with which she won the 2009 Native American Music Award (NAMMY) for Best Woman Artist of the Year. The first 8 poems in this selection are from her book, Conflict Resolution from Holy Beings (2015). The remaining 5 poems are from earlier works and have not been previously translated into Spanish. We are grateful to the poet for allowing us to translate her work here. (Andrea Echeverría y Juan G. Sánchez Martínez)

For Calling The Spirit Back
From Wandering The Earth
In Its Human Feet

Put down that bag of potato chips, that white bread, that
bottle of pop.

Turn off that cellphone, computer, and remote control.

Open the door, then close it behind you.

Take a breath offered by friendly winds. They travel
the earth gathering essences of plants to clean.

Give back with gratitude.

If you sing it will give your spirit lift to fly to the stars’ ears and

Acknowledge this earth who has cared for you since you were
a dream planting itself precisely within your parents’ desire.

Let your moccasin feet take you to the encampment of the
guardians who have known you before time,
who will be there after time.
They sit before the fire that has been there without time.

Let the earth stabilize your postcolonial insecure jitters.

Be respectful of the small insects, birds and animal people
who accompany you.
Ask their forgiveness for the harm we humans have brought
down upon them.

Don’t worry.
The heart knows the way though there may be high-rises,
interstates, checkpoints, armed soldiers, massacres, wars, and
those who will despise you because they despise themselves.

The journey might take you a few hours, a day, a year, a few
years, a hundred, a thousand or even more.

Watch your mind. Without training it might run away and
leave your heart for the immense human feast set by the
thieves of time.

Do not hold regrets.

When you find your way to the circle, to the fire kept burning
by the keepers of your soul, you will be welcomed.

You must clean yourself with cedar, sage, or other healing plant.

Cut the ties you have to failure and shame.

Let go the pain you are holding in your mind, your shoulders, your heart, all the way to your feet. Let go the pain of your ancestors to make way for those who are heading in our direction.

Ask for forgiveness.

Call upon the help of those who love you. These helpers take many forms: animal, element, bird, angel, saint, stone, or ancestor.

Call yourself back. You will find yourself caught in corners and creases of shame, judgment, and human abuse.

You must call in a way that your spirit will want to return.
Speak to it as you would to a beloved child.

Welcome your spirit back from its wandering. It will return
in pieces, in tatters. Gather them together. They will be
happy to be found after being lost for so long.

Your spirit will need to sleep awhile after it is bathed and
given clean clothes.

Now you can have a party. Invite everyone you know who
loves and supports you. Keep room for those who have no
place else to go.

Make a giveaway, and remember, keep the speeches short.

Then, you must do this: help the next person find their way through the dark.

© Joy Harjo. Conflict Resolution From Holy Beings. W. W. Norton & Company, 2015.

Rabbit Is Up to Tricks

In a world long before this one, there was enough for
Until somebody got out of line.
We heard it was Rabbit, fooling around with clay and the
Everybody was tired of his tricks and no one would play
with him;
He was lonely in this world.
So Rabbit thought to make a person.
And when he blew into the mouth of that crude figure to see
What would happen,
The clay man stood up.
Rabbit showed the clay man how to steal a chicken.
The clay man obeyed.
Then Rabbit showed him how to steal corn.
The clay man obeyed.
Then he showed him how to steal someone else’s wife.
The clay man obeyed.
Rabbit felt important and powerful.
The clay man felt important and powerful.
And once that clay man started he could not stop.
Once he took that chicken he wanted all the chickens.
And once he took that corn he wanted all the corn.
And once he took that wife, he wanted all the wives.
He was insatiable.
Then he had a taste of gold and he wanted all the gold.
Then it was land and anything else he saw.
His wanting only made him want more.
Soon it was countries, and then it was trade.
The wanting infected the earth.
We lost track of the purpose and reason for life.
We began to forget our songs. We forgot our stories.
We could no longer see or hear our ancestors,
Or talk with each other across the kitchen table.
Forests were being mowed down all over the world.
And Rabbit had no place to play.
Rabbit’s trick had backfired.
Rabbit tried to call the clay man back,
But when the clay man wouldn’t listen
Rabbit realized he’d made a clay man with no ears.

© Joy Harjo. Conflict Resolution From Holy Beings. W. W. Norton & Company, 2015.

In Mystic

My path is a cross of burning trees,
Lit by crows carrying fire in their beaks.
I ask the guardians of these lands for permission to enter.
I am a visitor to this history.
No one remembers to ask anymore, they answer.
What do I expect in this New England seaport town, near
      the birthplace of democracy,
Where I am a ghost?
Even a casino can’t make an Indian real.
Or should I say “native,” or “savage,” or “demon”?
And with what trade language?
I am trading a backwards look for jeopardy.
I agree with the ancient European maps.
There are monsters beyond imagination that troll the waters.
The Puritan’s determined ships did fall off the edge of the
     world . . .
I am happy to smell the sea,
Walk the narrow winding streets of shops and restaurants,
and delight in the company of friends, trees, and small
I would rather not speak with history but history came to me.
It was dark before daybreak when the fire sparked.
The men left on a hunt from the Pequot village here where I
The women and children left behind were set afire.
I do not want to know this, but my gut knows the language
      of bloodshed.
Over six hundred were killed, to establish a home for God’s
      people, crowed the Puritan leaders in their Sunday
And then history was gone in a betrayal of smoke.
There is still burning though we live in a democracy erected
over the burial ground.
This was given to me to speak.
Every poem is an effort at ceremony.
I asked for a way in.

(For Pam Uschuk) October 31, 2009
© Joy Harjo. Conflict Resolution From Holy Beings. W. W. Norton & Company, 2015.

Once the World Was Perfect

Once the world was perfect, and we were happy in that world.
Then we took it for granted.
Discontent began a small rumble in the earthly mind.
Then Doubt pushed through with its spiked head.
And once Doubt ruptured the web,
All manner of demon thoughts
Jumped through—
We destroyed the world we had been given
For inspiration, for life—
Each stone of jealousy, each stone
Of fear, greed, envy, and hatred, put out the light.
No one was without a stone in his or her hand.
There we were,
Right back where we had started.
We were bumping into each other
In the dark.
And now we had no place to live, since we didn’t know
How to live with each other.
Then one of the stumbling ones took pity on another
And shared a blanket.
A spark of kindness made a light.
The light made an opening in the darkness.
Everyone worked together to make a ladder.
A Wind Clan person climbed out first into the next world,
And then the other clans, the children of those clans, their children,
And their children, all the way through time—
To now, into this morning light to you.

© Joy Harjo. Conflict Resolution From Holy Beings. W. W. Norton & Company, 2015.

Listen to the poem read by the author at Poetry Foundation

Talking with the Sun

I believe in the sun.
In the tangle of human failures of fear, greed, and
forgetfulness, the sun gives me clarity.
When explorers first encountered my people, they called us
heathens, sun worshippers.
They didn’t understand that the sun is a relative, and
illuminates our path on this earth.

After dancing all night in a circle we realize that we are a part of a larger sense of stars and planets dancing with us overhead.
When the sun rises at the apex of the ceremony, we are renewed.
There is no mistaking this connection, though Walmart might be just down the road.
Humans are vulnerable and rely on the kindnesses of the earth and the sun; we exist together in a sacred field of meaning.

Our earth is shifting. We can all see it.
I hear from my Inuit and Yupik relatives up north that
everything has changed. It’s so hot; there is not enough
Animals are confused. Ice is melting.
The quantum physicists have it right; they are beginning to think like Indians: everything is connected dynamically at an intimate level.
When you remember this, then the current wobble of the earth makes sense. How much more oil can be drained,
Without replacement; without reciprocity?

I walked out of a hotel room just off Times Square at dawn to find the sun.
It was the fourth morning since the birth of my fourth granddaughter.
This was the morning I was to present her to the sun, as a relative, as one of us. It was still dark, overcast as I walked through Times Square.
I stood beneath a twenty-first century totem pole of symbols of multinational corporations, made of flash and neon.

The sun rose up over the city but I couldn’t see it amidst the rain.
Though I was not at home, bundling up the baby to carry her outside,
I carried this newborn girl within the cradleboard of my heart.
I held her up and presented her to the sun, so she would be recognized as a relative,
So that she won’t forget this connection, this promise, So that we all remember, the sacredness of life.

© Joy Harjo. Conflict Resolution From Holy Beings. W. W. Norton & Company, 2015.

Suicide Watch

I was on a train stopped sporadically at checkpoints.
What tribe are you, what nation, what race, what sex, what unworthy soul?

I could not sleep, because I could not wake up.
No mirror could give me back what I wanted.

I was given a drug to help me sleep.
Then another drug to wake up.
Then a drug was given to me to make me happy.
They all made me sadder.

Death will gamble with anyone.
There are many fools down here who believe they will win.

You know, said my teacher, you can continue to wallow, or
You can stand up here with me in the sunlight and watch the battle.

I sat across from a girl whose illness wanted to jump over to me.
No! I said, but not aloud.
I would have been taken for crazy.

We will always become those we have ever judged or condemned.

This is not mine. It belongs to the soldiers who raped the young women on the Trail of Tears. It belongs to Andrew Jackson. It belongs to the missionaries. It belongs to the thieves of our language. It belongs to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It no longer belongs to me.

I became fascinated by the dance of dragonflies over the river.
I found myself first there.

© Joy Harjo. Conflict Resolution From Holy Beings. W. W. Norton & Company, 2015.

You Can Change the Story, My Spirit Said to Me as I Sat Near the Sea

For Sharon Oard Warner and DG Nanouk Okpik

I am in a village up north, in the lands named “Alaska” now. These places had their own names long before English, Russian, or any other politically imposed trade language.

It is in the times when people dreamed and thought together as one being. That doesn’t mean there weren’t individuals. In those times, people were more individual in personhood than they are now in their common assertion of individuality: one person kept residence on the moon even while living in the village. Another was a man who dressed up and lived as a woman and was known as the best seamstress.

I have traveled to this village with a close friend who is also a distant relative. We are related to nearly everyone by marriage, clan, or blood.

The first night after our arrival, a woman is brutally killed in the village. Murder is not commonplace. The evil of it puts the whole village at risk. It has to be dealt with immediately so that the turbulence will not leave the people open to more evil.

Because my friend and I are the most obvious influence, it
is decided that we are to be killed, to satisfy the murder, to ensure the village will continue in a harmonious manner. No one tells us we are going to be killed. We know it; my bones know it. It is unfortunate, but it is how things must be.

The next morning, my friend and I have walked down from the village to help gather, when we hear the killing committee coming for us.
I can hear them behind us, with their implements and stones, in their psychic roar of purpose.
I know they are going to kill us. I thank the body that has been my clothing on this journey. It has served me well for protection and enjoyment.
I hear—I still hear—the crunch of bones as the village mob, sent to do this job, slams us violently. It’s not personal for most of them. A few gain pleasure.
I feel my body’s confused and terrible protest, then my spirit leaps out above the scene and I watch briefly before circling toward the sea.

I linger out over the sea, and my soul’s helper who has been with me through the stories of my being says, “You can go back and change the story.”

My first thought was, Why would I want to do that? I am free of the needs of earth existence. I can move like wind and water. But then, because I am human, not bird or whale, I feel compelled.
“What do you mean, ‘change the story’?”
Then I am back in the clothes of my body outside the village. I am back in the time between the killing in the village and my certain death in retribution.

“Now what am I supposed to do?” I ask my Spirit. I can see no other way to proceed through the story.

My Spirit responds, “You know what to do. Look, and you will see the story.”

And then I am alone with the sea and the sky. I give my thinking to time and let them go play.

It is then I see. I see a man in the village stalk a woman. She is not interested in him, but he won’t let go. He stalks her as he stalks a walrus. He is the village’s best hunter of walrus. He stalks her to her home, and when no one else is there, he trusses her as if she were a walrus, kills her and drags her body out of her house to the sea. I can see the trail of blood behind them. I can see his footprints in blood as he returns to the village alone.

I am in the village with my friend. The people are gathering and talking about the killing. I can feel their nudges toward my friend and I. I stand up with a drum in my hand. I say:

“I have a story I want to tell you.”

And then I begin drumming and dancing to accompany the story. It is pleasing, and the people want to hear more.
They want to hear what kind of story I am bringing from my village.
I sing, dance, and tell the story of a walrus hunter. He is the best walrus hunter of a village.

I sing about his relationship to the walrus, and how he has fed his people. And how skilled he is as he walks out onto the ice to call out the walrus.

And then I tell the story of the killing of a walrus who is like a woman. I talk about the qualities of the woman, whom the man sees as a walrus. By now, the story has its own spirit that wants to live. It dances and sings and breathes. It surprises me with what it knows.

With the last step, the last hit of the drum, the killer stands up, as if to flee the gathering. The people turn together as one and see him. They see that he has killed the woman, and it is his life that must be taken to satisfy the murder.

When I return to present earth time, I can still hear the singing.
I get up from my bed and dance and sing the story.
It is still in my tongue, my body, as if it has lived there all along,
though I am in a city with many streams of peoples from far and wide across the earth.

We make a jumble of stories. We do not dream together.

© Joy Harjo. Conflict Resolution From Holy Beings. W. W. Norton & Company, 2015.

Morning Prayers

I have missed the guardian spirit
of Sangre de Cristos,
those mountains
against which I destroyed myself
every morning I was sick
with loving and fighting
in those small years.
In that season I looked up
to a blue conception of faith
a notion of the sacred in
the elegant border of cedar trees
becoming mountain and sky.

This is how we were born into the world:
Sky fell in love with earth, wore turquoise,
cantered in on a black horse.
Earth dressed herself fragrantly,
with regard for aesthetics of holy romance.
Their love decorated the mountains with sunrise,
weaved valleys delicate with the edging of sunset.

This morning I look toward the east
and I am lonely for those mountains
Though I’ve said good-bye to the girl
with her urgent prayers for redemption.

I used to believe in a vision
that would save the people
carry us all to the top of the mountain
during the flood
of human destruction.

I know nothing anymore
as I place my feet into the next world
except this:
the nothingness
is vast and stunning,
brims with details
of steaming, dark coffee
ashes of campfires
the bells on yaks or sheep
sirens careening through a deluge
of humans
or the dead carried through fire,
through the mist of baking sweet
bread and breathing.

This is how we will leave this world:
on horses of sunrise and sunset
from the shadow of the mountains
who witnessed every battle
every small struggle.

This land is a poem

This land is a poem of ochre and burnt sand I could never write,
unless paper were the sacrament of sky, and ink the broken line of
wild horses staggering the horizon several miles away. Even then,
does anything written ever matter to the earth, wind, and sky?

Anything that matters

Anything that matters is here. Anything that will continue to matter
in the next several thousand years will continue to be here.
Approaching in the distance is the child you were some years ago.
See her laughing as she chases a white butterfly.

Don’t bother the earth spirit

Don’t bother the earth spirit who lives here. She is working on a
story. It is the oldest story in the world and it is delicate, changing.
If she sees you watching she will invite you in for coffee, give you
warm bread, and you will be obligated to stay and listen. But this
is no ordinary story. You will have to endure earthquakes, light-
ning, the deaths of all you love, the most blinding beauty. It’s
a story so compelling you may never want to leave; this is how she
traps you. See the stone finger over there? That is the only one
who ever escaped.


a woman can’t survive
by her own breath
she must know
the voices of mountains
she must recognize
the foreverness of blue sky
she must flow
with the elusive
of night winds
who will take her
into herself

look at me
i am not a separate woman
i am a continuance
of blue sky
i am the throat
of the mountains
a night wind
who burns
with every breath
she takes

© Joy Harjo. What Moon Drove Me to This? 1980.


Official site

Poetry Foundation


Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light

Joy Harjo’s Reality Show

Joy Harjo, A Life in Poetry


Andrea Echeverría

Andrea Echeverría is an Assistant Professor at Wake Forest University. She has published a book on the work of two Peruvian poets titled El despertar de los awquis: migración y utopía en la poesía de Boris Espezúa y Gloria Mendoza (Paracaídas Editores & UNMSM, 2016), and several articles on Mapuche poetry, ritual and memory. She is currently working on a book project on contemporary Mapuche poetry and visual arts.

Juan G. Sánchez Martínez

Juan G. Sánchez Martínez is originally from the Andes (Bakatá, Colombia). He dedicates both his creative and scholarly writing to indigenous cultural expression and ancestral ways of being. His book, Altamar, was awarded the 2016 National Prize for Literature in the area of Poetry, Universidad de Antioquia, Colombia.

Altamar is a tribute to the grandfathers and grandmothers, activists and writers who have protected, with their own lives, the pure water of their territories. Since 2016, he works as an Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina Asheville, in the Departments of Languages and Literatures and Indigenous Studies.

Jeisson Castillo: Art, Territory and Spirituality

Jeisson Castillo (MA. in Visual Arts, Javeriana University, Bogotá) is a young painter, photographer, and audiovisual producer whose work focuses on the peasant and indigenous communities of Colombia. As part of various projects commissioned by the government and non-governmental organizations, he has traveled extensively in rural areas, including the entire Amazon basin of Colombia, where he has immersed himself in the traditional knowledge and ancestral wisdom of many indigenous peoples who are at risk of physical and cultural extinction.

His visual production has been exhibited in Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, France, Brazil, Norway, and the United States. Currently, he combines illustration, painting, performance, video, and anthropological research in his artistic practice. In endowing his images with spirit, his most recent work explores in particular the use of sacred plants and non-human entities.  

In his own words: “My work is an exercise in searching, traveling, and learning. First, you always must go over the territory, recognizing and remembering with the help of elders and medicine men and women; it is at this moment when I receive instructions, tasks, sometimes assignments that I must approach conceptually, and sometimes concrete images that I must recreate as actions or rituals. Then comes the production of my work, which is always an immersion. My art is experiential, therefore everything that happens in everyday life influences the pieces in process.

Formally, in my painting, I try to blend materials- from my western heritage, the minerals: oil, turpentine, canvas- from my indigenous and African heritage, the sacred plants: tobacco, yagé, borrachero… as well as quartz, soil, and incense. Through experimentation I have found that these materials allow me to link paintings to the spirit of the people, non-human entities, plants, and territories that I portray.”


Junimaré Journeys: a video

Artist website

Yana Lucila Lema: 6 poems from Tamyawan Shamukupani / Living with the rain

About the author:

Yana Lucila Lema studied Social Communication with a specialization in Television at the Central University of Ecuador. She also studied Creative Writing and received a Masters of Social Sciences with a concentration in Indigenous Issues at FLACSO. She obtained a degree in Audiovisual Journalism at the Jose Marti International Institute of Journalism in Cuba. She has collaborated with indigenous organizations such as the Confederacy of Ecuadorian Indigenous Nationalities (CONAIE), the Confederacy of Indigenous Nationalities from the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE), and the Confederacy of Peoples of Kichwa nationality (ECUARUNARI).

In her work with CONAIE she created several videos about strengthening cultural identity among indigenous peoples. One of these videos, which focused on traditional medicine, was the winner of the First Nations of Abya Yala Film Festival. She was presenter for the Kichwa language newscast KICHWAPI for six and a half years on the national channel RTS. As a writer, she participated in the International Meeting of Indigenous Communicators and Writers in Indigenous Languages (UNAM-Mexico), the Conference of the Association for Writers in Indigenous Languages of Mexico, and the International Poetry Festivals of Medellin and Bogota (Colombia). Her poetry was included in the book Las palabras pueden: Los escritores y la infancia (UNICEF), the poetry anthology of indigenous nations of Ecuador Ñaupa pachamanta purik rimaykuna / Antiguas palabras andantes (Casa de la Ecuatoriana 2016), and in the special edition of the Diálogo Magazine “Los cinco puntos cardinales en la literatura indígena contemporánea/ The five cardinal points in contemporary indigenous literature” (DePaul University 2016). Currently, she works as a professor in the University of the Arts in Guayaquil.

Tamyawan Shamukupani is the first collection of Quichua poetry by Yana Lucy Lema. Her poetry is very intimate, sensual and connected to her Otavalo heritage and the cosmos in general. She does that with few strokes, as if she was talking to someone, usually a loved one. Hers is a new voice in Quichua poetry, going beyond the usual rhetoric. The translations were done relying primarily in the original Quichua version, and might be slightly different than the authors translation into Spanish. We have also segmented the stanzas to allow the nonlinear symbolic flow between the lines. If the translator is familiar with the native language this is the right way to approach a text, so the nuances are not lost in the intermediate language. Thanks to Robert Roth, director of And Then Magazine, for Reading and suggesting some fine tuning for this wonderful body of work.  (by Fredy A. Roncalla)

Tamyawan Shamukupani /Living with the rain


chay lusiru kimirimukunmi
kintikunapash ña pawanakunmi

pakchata yallik ñuka shunkupash wakakunmi

chay kanpa shimiwan allpata mutyachishami

wayrapash ñukanchikwan pukllachun sakishunlla

-ama manchaychu

nachu urkukunapash kuyarinmi

nishpami ñuka mamaka- nin


Morning star comes by
and the hummingbirds fly around

my heart roars louder than a waterfall

I will water the earth with your lips and mouth

It is time for the wind to play with us

do not fear:

even the mountains
love each other

my mother said


ñawpa mamakunapa makikunapi
katik wawakunapa makikunapi

uchilla ninakunashinami
puka mullukunapash

cuentakunapash punchalla rikurinakun

inti llukshinkakaman
inti washakunkakaman tushunka

shunku kushikuchun
kutinpash pukuchiyta ushankapak


At the hands of the elder women
and the young ones that follow them

shine golden mullu* shells
like small suns

the silver beads will dance
until sunrise

and sunset

bringing happiness to our hearts
so they flower again

*Mullu is the quichua mane for the spondylous shell. This shell is used in many rituals in the Andes and had an exchange value close to money in pre-Hispanic times. This shell is widely used in the manufacture of beads in the coastal region of Ecuador and Peru. This poem refers to the importance of handcrafting in quichua communities.


kunanka ñukawan
ñuka ñawi rikuypi tiyakuy

kanpa maki awayta rikukusha
nachu hawapachapi nina puchkakunapash watarinakun

nachu paykunallatak uchilla ninakunata
ñukanchik shunkukunatapash watachishka


Stay now
looking at me in the eyes

I will watch your hands
as if they were weaving threads of fire at Hawa Pacha*

those hands
perhaps the only ones tying small suns**

for our hearts contentment

*”Hawa pacha” is the celestial dimension in Quichua cosmology.
**”Tying small suns” refers to the capacity to tie a celestial body –usually with a woolen cord- to benefit the realm of this world.


kayna puncha
kayna chishi

kayna tuta

ñuka shuti kanpa shimipi
kanpa llakta ñuka ñawipi

ñawpa ñawpa punchakuna purishkami kashka

ñukanchik makikunapi hapirishka munay
ñukanchik llaktakunamanta makanakushpa puriwan paktay

chay puncha
chay chishi

chay tuta

kanpa shuti ñuka shimipi
ñuka llakta kanpa ñawipi

ñawpa punchakuna purishkami kashka

chiri wayra chawpipi ukllariy
aycha ukupi chay tukuy makanakuykunawan paktay

kunan puncha
kunan chishi

kunan tuta charichishkaka

ñuka llaktapi kan chulunlla
kanpa llaktapi ñuka chulunlla

kunan kunan purishkami kan

uchilla ninakunalla tutapi
shuk makanakuykunapash ñukanchikta tarimushkami

kanta ñukata ñukanchikpa chikan llaktakunapi


last evening

the night holding 

my name in your lips
and your land in my eyes

come from very old times

like a certain tenderness left in our hands
by the struggles for our people

the other day
and evening

that night holding

your name in my lips
and my land in your eyes

are a more recent story

just like a hug in the middle of the cold wind
blowing with the struggles we carry in our blood

this evening

and the night still holding 

your silence in my land
and your land in my silence

are even a smaller tale

like a night with small suns
guiding our future struggles

for our lands


kan ñuka suni akchata llampuchishkata yarinirakmi

ñuka rinripi

kanpa uchilla wankarpash wakakunrakmi


I have your hand going through my hair

and in my ears

the sound of your small drum


suni akchayuk
raymi kushma churakushka mamakulla

chishikunapi kanta shuyanchik

—ñanta mañachiychik yallipasha— nishpa purimuy
—yallipay mama yallipay— nishpa chaskishunmi

wawakunaman kushikuyta
kanpa mishki shimita apamupay

imashina sisakuna pukuchun tamyata shuyanchik

shina kantapash shuyanchikmi

shamuy sumak tullpukunayuk

kawsak rumikunayuk mamakulla


Venerable old lady
long haired lady

Dressed like you are going to the town celebration:

we wait for you
as the evening sets

just come and say “I am passing by your place”
we will answer “just pass, madam, just pass”

bring your sweet words and happiness
for the infants

we wait for you as the flowers long for the rain

just come, old lady

with your beautiful colors
and your stones full of memories


About the translator:

Fredy A. Roncalla was born in Chalhuanca, Apurimac, Peru in 1953. He has studied linguistics and literature, in addition to a long journey in Andean Studies, with a special focus on aesthetic elements. He is also a handcraft artist who works with recycled materials. He has published poetry and essays in diverse online and printed publications.

He is the author of Canto de pájaro o invocación a la palabra (Buffon Press, 1984); Escritos Mitimaes: hacia una poética andina postmoderna (Barro Editorial Press, 1998); Hawansuyo Ukun words (Hawansuyo/Pakarina Ediciones, 2015); and Revelación en la senda del manzanar: Homenaje a Juan Ramírez Ruiz (Hawansuyo/ Pakarina, 2016). He is currently working on Llapan llaqtan: narrativa y poesía trilingüe/ Llapan llaqtan: trilingual poetry. His trans-Andean projects can be found in the virtual ayllu: Hawansuyo Peruvian Bookstore, Churoncalla.com, y Hawansuyo.com