Indigenous and European languages will have a place at the Carlos Montemary VIII Poetry Festival: The Languages of America, on October 11 at the Nezahualcoyotl Hall in Mexico City.
The festival takes place every two years at it aims to provide a privileged space for languages that usually don’t enjoy as much exposure. This year, the festival is bringing poets from Guatemala, Colombia, Chile, Canada, Brazil, the United States and Mexico, the host country.
“It’s a privilege listening to other cultures, the first of the continent, which offer us their poetry, the great rebel, but also beauty,” said Natalia Toledo, a poet from Juchitan, Oaxaca, who writes in the tonal language known as Zapoteco.
Toledo will be one of the event’s hosts, and hopes the languages will be reunited to “delight us not only with their sounds, but with their way of understanding the world.”
The poetry festival is organized by the University Program of Cultural Diversity and Interculturality Studies (PUIC), from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). It takes its name from the renowned anthropologist, historian and writer Carlos Montemayor, who coordinated the festival until his death in 2010, and has been reuniting languages since 2004 “with the firm goal of not distinguishing between language or dialect, and based in the idea that there are no superior languages.”
“In every edition, we have filled the Nezahualcoyotl Hall in a sort of mystic experience, during two or three hours, with a public mostly composed of young students, who are transformed after listening poetry in different languages,” said Jose del Val, PUIC director.
The festival will not only be the great reading at the hall, but it also includes talks and discussions between the poets, students and the public in different moments.
It will start with a conversation between poets David Huerta, who writes in Spanish, and poet Victor Teran, who writes in Zapoteco, on Wednesday.
Other participating poets will be Humberto Ak’abal (Mayan Quiche), Natalio Hernandez (Nahuatl), Elicura Chihuailaf (Mapuche), Margaret Rendall (English), Briceida Cuevas Cob (Mayan), Inacio Vieira de Melo (Portuguese), Louise Dupre (French), Fredy Chicangana (Quechua), Juana Peñate Montejo (Ch’ol) and Zara Monroy (Seri).
Some of the poets already met to present an anthology book compiling works of poets present at the third edition of the festival, including poems in Nahuatl, Dulegaya, Wuayuu, Q’anjob’al, Diidxaza, Mayan, Tzotzil, Portuguese, French and English.
“It will be a meeting point for many of Carlos’s friends, who was very important in the formation of a new generation of poets,” said Mardonio Carballo, one of the festival’s organizers.
“There’s been a blooming of poetry works in indigenous languages,” he concluded.
The great historian, philosopher and translator Manuel Leon-Portilla will be an honorary guest at the event.