Michael Bazzett: The Power & Poetry of the Popol Vuh, the Creation Epic of the Maya

Wed, Oct 2, 2019, 12:00 pm
Michael Bazzett is a poet, teacher, & translator. The recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, his poems have appeared in The Sun, Tin House, Ploughshares, The American Poetry Review, and Image. He’s the author of three collections of poetry, including You Must Remember This, winner of the Linquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry. His translation of the Mayan creation epic, The Popol Vuh, (Milkweed Editions, 2018) – the first English rendering of the myth in verse – was recently long-listed for the National Translation Award and named “one of 2018’s ten best books of poetry” by the NY Times. He lives in Minneapolis.
This talk will introduce the scope and scale of the creation myth of the Maya, the Popol Vuh, and how it came to us in textual form. It will touch briefly upon the process & challenges of creating a poetic rendering from the K'iche', then a number of excerpts will be read to give sense of the arc of the greater work.
"It's going to help us all if we, as contemporary readers, begin connecting/reconnecting with indigenous stories, stories that arose from a profound connection between people & the land that held them for hundreds of generations. We need these stories & the imagination they feed. Our impoverished relationship with the world & each other stems from our inability, quite literally, to imagine it otherwise. 
Stories such as the Popol Vuh help point the way to this re-imagining: Calling things what they are matters. Knowing that we exist in a river of time and that we belong to the land (and not the other way around) matters. Understanding that being fully human is a state that can be achieved, yet also lost, matters. Realizing that the smallest viable unit of humanity is not the individual, but the relationship - this, too, matters.
Co-sponsored by the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication.
This event is free and open to the public. Lunch provided.
0-S-6 Green Hall