Liliana Ancalao, Mapuche Poet
Works by and about Liliana Ancalao in LALT No. 5:
Etymologically, the word Mapuche blends the Mapuzungun word “mapu,” meaning “land,” with “che,” meaning “people.” In other words, the Mapuche self-identify as “the people of the land.” Moreover, the preposition in that adjective phrase is itself of special importance. That is, the Mapuche understand themselves as being people of the land, and not its possessors, owners, or privatizers, for example. Rather, as archaeological records attest in concert with longstanding Mapuche oral histories, their culture emerged some 14,500 years ago from a nomadic people traversing the southern third of what is today mapped most commonly as continental South America.
Liliana Ancalao: "There was so much crying, and a lot of laughter, too": A Conversation with Melisa Stocco
Liliana Ancalao answers the telephone in Comodoro Rivadavia, a coastal city in the province of Chubut, in the Patagonian region of Argentina. For Mapuche people, the name for the region that includes Comodoro Rivadavia is Puel Mapu, meaning “land of the east,” because it borders the eastern edge of the Andes, a chain of mountains that served historically not as a border or limit, but as a birdge of exchange, a nexus, for diverse communities and inhabitants of the ancestral land called Wallmapu.
Although it was only one hundred years ago, it seems to my generation like some mythical age. The Mapuche could roam freely across their territory and communicated with the elements of the mapu. Mapuzungun means “language of the land.” The land speaks. All its beings have language, and the Mapuche know it.
i learned about the cold back when i still wore a school uniform / when it was dark out / and my old man’s rambler classic wouldn’t start / we’d have to walk all the way to class / traversing time / sharp teeth biting into / our skinny bodies / i was a pair of achy knees / we used to say it’s so cold / just to watch our breath form the words / that kept us company
father of the helpless / waiting for the bus / don’t let die this tiny flame / fueled by pure sun amidst frost
may the bus come soon / while the wait / piles ash upon my brow / and i work to brush it off and signal / and keep my eyes on the route / even if my veins doubt it / tugging