Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Aj-ts’íib or el letrado? Authorial Identity in Gómez Navarrete’s Bilingual Maya Poetry

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2021), 98, (4), 415–432.

Abstract

Latin America is witnessing a revival in the literary production of indigenous languages, yet contemporary indigenous writers must often negotiate between different cultural understandings of what literature should be. The purpose of this article is to take one bilingual poem, composed in Yucatec Maya and Spanish, as a case study of the writerly conflict between the Maya paradigm of ts’íib and the ‘Western’ ideal of the letrado. The poem, written by Javier Abelardo Gómez Navarrete (1942-2018), is entitled ‘K’u’uk’um kaan’ in its Yucatec version and ‘Serpiente de regio plumaje’ in its version in Spanish. Through linguistic and hermeneutic analysis of key extracts, the article argues that Gómez Navarrete’s poem can be read as an exploration of what it means to be a Maya writer in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, in terms of the antagonistic yet mutually constitutive relationship between the categories of ts’íib and the letrado.

Latinoamérica está presenciando un renacimiento de la producción literaria en lenguas originarias; sin embargo, los escritores indígenas contemporáneos suelen experimentar la necesidad de negociar entre distintas concepciones culturales sobre en qué debe consistir la literatura. El propósito de este artículo consiste en tomar un poema bilingüe, escrito en maya yucateco y español, como caso de estudio del conflicto escriturario entre el paradigma maya de ts’íib y el ideal ‘occidental’ del letrado. El poema, escrito por Javier Abelardo Gómez Navarrete (1942-2018), se titula ‘K’u’uk’um kaan’ en su versión yucateca y ‘Serpiente de regio plumaje’ en su versión en español. Mediante un análisis lingüístico y hermenéutico de extractos clave, el artículo sostiene que el poema se puede leer como una exploración de qué significa ser un escritor maya en los siglos veinte y veintiuno, en términos de la relación antagónica pero mutuamente constitutiva entre las categorías de ts’íib y el letrado.

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PIGOTT, CHARLES M.