K'eojinan yaxal mut
vokolil xchi'uk chamel.
Ak'otajan ta jvayuch
ta sts'unel lekil kuxlejal.
Sk'eoj muk’ta ja’mal
sbolomal ch’ul balumil
ak’o mu xiyal ta lot.
Ta ak’ob me’il Yaxte’
ta spojel ik’al chopolal.
K’eojinan ants, k’eojinan vinik
ak’o nichimajuk avinkilel.
Ts’uno ta ch’ul balumil
sbek’ kolel yu’un xa k’aj
……. Jyomuk k’eojetik
lull my soul to sleep,
soothe my wounds,
forgetfulness, and pain.
dance in my dreams,
in my willing spirit.
Roaring in the jungle,
nurture my soul
so it does not err.
Take my heart
into your arms mother Ceiba,
guide my footsteps
as I struggle with the darkness.
Sing men and women,
let your bodies flower.
Plant the fields
with the seeds of liberty and reap
…..bouquets of song.
Flowers for the Heart
Our language speaks from the heart
we have ch'ulel and we fly in dreams.
We sing with the wind and laugh with the clouds
we plant the corn and harvest the tortillas.
When I am happy my heart blossoms
sorrow is my heart torn in pieces.
When I am sick the pain surges from my heart
when we fight we seek peace in the heart.
Tsotsil is a language that sings to speak
like the other languages, it is poetry on its own
poetry that sings to corn and to time
counts the years and weaves the memories.
Xmuk'ib ko'onton is to have hopes.
Ta jk'anot ta skotol ko'onton is to love with the heart.
Jun o'ontonal is peace in the heart and in life.
K'ux ta ko'onton is pain in my heart for injustice.
The years live and the corn becomes tortillas
stories are woven, times remembered
we remember the 43 students, from the heart.
And that the words bloom in xnichimal ko'ontontik.
Ta yav yok ch’ul ik’
xanav smuk’ul yaxinal ko’on,
poko be xasnit ta xambal.
Jbeiltesvanej ch’ul vitsetik,
p’ijil antsatik xa xcha’bi,
nojemik ta kuxlejal, ch’ul jo’ jmotontik.
Poko beetik, poko vayuchiletik,
mula xchi’uk ka’, jxambil xa kajlebin.
Chamel xchi’uk chopolal la ta lekil jnaklej,
xkuxlejal ch’ul balumil xa jel ta milel bail
Ch’ich’ achik’, akrus la kuch.
Ch’ul ik’etik la vayuchin, la juch’ta ch’ul osil,
Ta xambal la meltsan be yu’un vo’onej kuxlejal.
Ants xchi’uk viniketik, jun k’eoj la yak’otajinik,
Lekilal xchi’uk sa’el kolel la snojes avo’on
Snak’obil kuxlejal, jme’tik ch’ul vits.
Ta poko ch’ul beetik beiltesunikun el…
My shadowy hope, you walk
in the wind’s footsteps,
going down old roads.
Full of life, the mountains are beautiful women
who guide you,
who care for you, who give you water.
You rode mules and horses
down the roads of old dreams.
You exchanged the living land for a life of defeat,
meaning death and disgrace for my loved ones,
sweating blood, you carried your cross.
You dreamed the wind, you blew forth time,
walking you created the paths of history.
Men and women formed circles,
filling their hope with miracles and struggle,
the secret of life, our mountain-mother.
Guide me down the old roads…
“Life Songs” and “Old Roads” translated by Paul M. Worley; “Flowers for the Heart” translated by Sean S. Sell
Xun Betan was born in the municipality of Venustiano Carranza, in Chiapas, México. He studied Social Anthropology at the Autonomous University of Chiapas. He is a poet, independent researcher, translator, interpreter, and promoter of the Tsotsil language. Betan coordinates the Snichimal Vayuchil collective, as well as other Tsotsil- and Tseltal-language literary workshops. He coordinates and edits the magazine Ta Jk’optik Jk'optik (revista con textos en lenguas tsotsil y tseltal). He has published texts in a number of different newspapers and journals, such as La Jornada’s Ojarasca supplement. He took part in Poetas invisibles in 2014, and in the book Chamote in 2015. He is the translator of the book Semilla libro (2015), Un verso forjé donde crece la Luz (2016), and the Tsotsil versión of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince (2018). With Snichimal Vayuchil, he has collaborated on the books Snichimal Vayuchil (2016), Uni Tsebetik (2017), and Keremetik (2018).
Paul M. Worley is Associate Professor of Global Literature at Western Carolina University. He is the author of Telling and Being Told: Storytelling and Cultural Control in Contemporary Yucatec Maya Literatures (2013; oral performances recorded as part of this book project are available at tsikbalichmaya.org), and with Rita M. Palacios is co-author of the forthcoming Unwriting Maya Literature: Ts’íib as Recorded Knowledge (2019). He is a Fulbright Scholar, and 2018 winner of the Sturgis Leavitt Award from the Southeastern Council on Latin American Studies. In addition to his academic work, he has translated selected works by Indigenous authors such as Hubert Malina, Adriana López, and Ruperta Bautista, serves as editor-at-large for México for the journal of world literature in English translation, Asymptote, and as poetry editor for the North Dakota Quarterly.
Sean S. Sell is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature at UC Davis, focusing on indigenous writers in Chiapas, Mexico. He edited and translated Chiapas Maya Awakening: Contemporary Poems and Short Stories (University of Oklahoma Press, 2017). Sell’s dissertation will examine the cultural significance of the jaguar in Chiapas literature.
The fourteenth issue of Latin American Literature Today features dossiers dedicated to the dislocated writing of Latin American authors based in the United States and the gothic fiction of Mariana Enriquez, plus reflections on writing in a second language by Fabio Morábito, an interview with 2019 Alfaguara Prize winner Patricio Pron, and exclusive translation previews from Guadalupe Nettel, Gabriela Wiener, and Luis Alejandro Ordóñez.