Tuesday, April 23, 2019
Poet Translator to Recite Guatemalan Creation Myths
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Tuesday, March 26, 2019
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

In the beginning, according to the ancient Mayans, the world was spoken into existence with the single word: “Earth.”

There were no inhabitants and no sun—just the sovereign Framer and Shaper.

Then came the twin heroes Hunahpu and Xbalanque who, armed with blowguns, began a journey to hell and back confronting the folly of false deities and death. They played a momentous ball game with the death lords of the Underworld. And they prepared the way for the planting of corn, from which deities created humans.

This is the story of the Mayan “Popol Vuh,” also known as “The Book of the People” or “The Book of the Woven Mat.” It’s the creation story of the Quiche Maya of what today is the Guatemalan Highlands northwest of Guatemala City.

It’s the creation story that poet and translator Michael Bazzett has translated. And he will read poems from it at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 28, at Ketchum’s Community Library.

Bazzett, who translated it from the K’iche’ language, has received many awards for his new translation of the ancient Mayan creation story. It’s been hailed as the New York Times Best Poetry Book of 2018 and a World Literature Today Notable Translation.

It’s a story that asks not only “Where did you come from?” but also “How might you live again?”

Bazzett, a mythology teacher at The Blake School, a college prep school in Minneapolis, learned of the Popol Vuh while visiting Mexico. He spent years working on the translation in Guatemala.

Thursday’s presentation is made possible by Dr. Mac Test and the Boise State University English Department.

 

 

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