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John Curl Translates Mayan Poetry

Literary Dialogs with Nina Serrano featuring John Curl

In this episode of Literary Dialogs with Nina Serrano, I am thrilled to bring you a remarkable literary adventure by this prolific and super active poet. John Curl’s ever present curiosity led him to learn the Mayan language enough to be able translate it’s modern and older poetry. He felt he had to be able to “hear” Mayan poetry as “spoken” poetry.

Mayan Poetry Translations

Ancient Mayan Poetry translated by John Curl.

In this interview he shares his English translations of Mayan poetry from the lands of Maya, called Mayab, which included southern Mexico, Belize and Guatemala, where it is currently spoken in thriving communities.

In the video you get an up-close look at the bandage on my left check, as it heals from a recent skin cancer surgery. I am happy to report, the bandage has since gone and I continue healing, unbandaged.

We have included Mayan music played by Gerardo Marin to accompany the poems. Gerardo’s music was recorded several years ago in 2018 here in Vallejo. I am glad I have finally found a good home for this music with John’s translations.

Thanks to the free wheeling curiosity of this extraordinary poet, we can now enjoy Mayan poetry and culture of our hemispheric neighbors written in a span of over three hundred years. We are so fortunate that John’s interests are so broad that we have the opportunity to become familiar with older and contemporary poetry in the Americas. John’s Mayan translations augment wonderfully his twenty years of on-going work to establish Indigenous People’s Day that has finally replaced Columbus Day.

John Curl is the author of many volumes of his own fine books of poetry and novels. He is active in the Revolutionary Poets Brigade and has edited some of their anthologies. You can find more about John on his website.

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