Posted by Amanda Sommer Lotspike – MA Candidate at CLACS
This is Part II in a series of essays on the social life of the yareta, based on fieldwork supported by the Tinker Grant. Find Part I here.
Y llegan así, sin nada de nada, absoluto silencio
entre la página de un libro y el poema muerto
el vino del sueño quebrado en sus palabras
el sueño del vino embriagado en la esperanza
With these words, Miguel Urrelo Valdivia opens “Días,” a poem from his latest chapbook Jallp’ay, Tierra mía. Published with support from the National Corporation for Indigenous Development of Chile, Jallp’ay is Urrelo’s fifth book of poems and short stories. Among those are Cuentos de los Abuelos I, a compilation of oral histories passed down in the Alto Loa of San Pedro, Atacama, and II, a selection of new stories, which in Urrelo’s own words “are created by me, but emulate stories that were transmitted orally.”
Jallp’ay is Urrelo’s first bilingual Quechua-Spanish collection of poetry, an effort to reclaim Quechua as a pillar of nortino cultural identity. Raised in the small mining town of Amincha, Urrelo moved to the city of Calama with his mother and siblings at age ten following the passing of his father. “Calama welcomed us the way that all cities welcome indigenous migrants,” he told me as we sat, paused in the city square one morning, “with discrimination, with ignorance, with that [type of] scorn directed at indigenous communities.”