Poetry at the Post: Paraguay? Say What?

Ayvu Membyre;
Hijo de aquel verbo;
Offspring of the Distant Word
Guaraní and Spanish poems
by Susy Delgado
English translations by Susan Smith Nash

En un despertar
se pegó
a mi lengua
estalló
en mi boca,
cosa insospechada,
el habla.

Petei ko’éme
oja vaekue
che kure,
opu vaekue
che jurúpe,
mba’e guasuete,
ñe’e.

In an awakening
it glued itself
to my tongue
it lingered
in my mouth,
an unexpected thing,
the spoken word.

Landscape in the Gran Chaco, Paraguay, May 2004. Photo by Ilosuna. CC by 1.0
Landscape in the Gran Chaco, Paraguay, May 2004.
Photo by Ilosuna. CC by 1.0

How much do you know about Paraguay?

I admit it. I know little so I’m currently on the hunt for Paraguayan poets. (I’ve discovered you can learn a lot about a place though its poetry.)

Voila! Susy Delgado is my first encounter.

I’m continuing my search for more poets so if you have any suggestions, please send them along. If the poems are in español, no problema. 

Guarani spiritual leader holding cross and gourd rattle, Paraguay, 2006 photo courtesy of Frank O'Weaver CC by SA 3.0
Guarani spiritual leader holding cross and gourd rattle, Paraguay, 2006
photo courtesy of Frank O’Weaver CC by SA 3.0

“Much of the nation’s literature is written in Guaraní, a native American language which was old when the Spanish conquistadors arrived nearly 500 years ago. Although other AmerIndian languages still continue to be spoken throughout Latin America, this may be the last one to still be part of a mainstream literary culture.” ( First Light: : An Anthology of Paraguayan Women Writers, edited by Susan Smith Nash)

Asunción's Downtown in 1872
Asunción’s Downtown in 1872

Thinking of a visit to Asunción—the capital of Paraguay? Here’s what the New York Times had to say a couple of years ago,

By Embajada de EEUU en Paraguay [CC BY 2.0]
By Embajada de EEUU en Paraguay [CC BY 2.0]

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