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An act of literary resistance

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New Delhi, Nov 14 : In a room full of English- and Spanish-speakers, young Mexican poet Nadia Lopez Garcia blazed forth, unapologetically reading her poems in one of the indigenous Mixtec languages that have half a million speakers globally.

Aiming to protect and promote Mexico’s native culture, Nadia was recently in New Delhi for a literary meeting between Indian and Mexican writers.

The meet, organised by Sahitya Akademi and the Mexican embassy here this week, brought to the national capital two literary personalities, one of whch is holding onto her native tongue as a symbol of identity, and the other is making an indigenous language accessible via translation.

“In Mexico, there is a legal framework recognising indigenous languages but it is not our reality. There is a gap between the legal recognition and the actual practice. From that point of view, writing or claiming to be an indigenous writer in Mexico can put you in a second-class position.

“It’s challenging, it is an act of resistance. It also tells the state and society that there is a language and a way of thinking that’s different, and that still contributes to the literary scene,” 1992-born Nadia told IANSlife here. She writes in tu’un savi, an indigenous language of Mexico.

The young poet – who also won the National Youth Prize last year, the highest distinction bestowed by the government of Mexico to its youth – had poet Cosme Alvarez to her company. Cosme, a north Mexico-born poet-translator, is another writer who has his roots in the Yoreme native culture of the country.

Although he writes in Spanish – the dominant language of Mexico after it was colonised by Spain – he learnt the language Cahita over a period of 10 years, just to be able to translate the Yoreme literary treasure for the Spanish-speaking world.

Asked how it was like to learn that language, Cosme said that it was a great experience, because his people have another kind of perception. “I see the world as them. Many people talk in thoughts and reflections, but as a yoreme, I see the world in images.”

Cosme will also be in Mumbai for the Tata Literature Live literary festival on November 15 and 16.

Nadia and Cosme are among the few Mexican indigenous writers, who not just hold their language dear, but also make their way up the Spanish-dominated publishing world in the Latin American country. While Mexico’s initiatives to send out award-winning poets to newer lands help in cultural exchange, what’s also needed is wider readership for their writing.

Nonetheless, what’s unanimous is the indomitable spirit. “I aim to open the way through poetry,” Nadia signs off.

(Siddhi Jain can be contacted at [email protected])

–IANS

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