I began translating Isthmus Zapotec poet Víctor Terán in early 2008, from an anthology of contemporary indigenous poets I picked up on one of my many trips through Oaxaca, where I had spent time in several Zapotec communities. That translation project resulted in a remarkable friendship, first stoked over mezcal-boiled plums in Oaxaca City and further strengthened by a three-week tour of the UK in 2010. Over the course of our relationship I found myself increasingly inspired—not just by Víctor’s poems, which often combine an erotic pastoralism with a sonic delight I aspired and struggled to replicate in my English-language translations, but by his activism, his vision to strengthen the Zapotec language and culture by the act of writing poetry.
David Shook has a project to produce five chapbooks of translations of indigenous-language poetry of Mexico that also has collaborative art and film efforts going into the mix. (He also has an awesome moustache.)
Los Angeles-based artists Ben Rodkin and David Shook are collaborating to document the life and work of contemporary Isthmus Zapotec artists and poets, by producing both a short-subject documentary film and a 5-chapbook set of indigenous Mexican poetry.
You can support the project via Kickstarter. [via Kickstarter]
He also wrote a piece for Three Percent where he talks about it. The quote at the top is taken from it. Good reading. [via Three Percent]