JAIME LUIS HUENÚN (Chile, Mapuche people, 1967)
I got off in the fog of Port Trakl,
searching for the Bar of Good Fortune
to chat about my trip.
But everyone was mesmerized by the polar stars in their drinks,
silent like the sea off a desert island.
I went out to roam the red-lit streets.
Perfumed and bored women, selling their tired bodies.
«In Port Trakl poets come to die», they said,
smiling in all the languages of the world.
I gave them poems I planned to take to my grave
as proof of my time on Earth.
Translation by Daniel Borzutzky
Jaime Luis Huenún was born in Valdivia in 1967. He belongs to the Mapuche nation. His work has received many distinctions and has been compilated in several anthologies, for being one of the Mapuche-Huilliche poets of greatest importance. In 1996 and 1997 he obtained financing from The Fund for Development of Art and Culture (Fondart) for his writing project: Ceremonias. Fragments of his poetry have appeared in magazines and national anthologies, among which they outstand: Cartas al Azar (selection of Chilean poetry), Ed. Ergo Sum, 1989, Emergency zone, Paginadura, Valdivia, 1994, and in foreign anthologies like Ül: Four Mapuche poets, American Society and Latinamerican Literary Rewiew Press New York 1998. He was awarded with the first prize in the National Poetry Prize: El joven Neruda Temuco 1999. he has published: Ceremonias (University of Santiago Publishing House), Puerto Trakl (LOM Editions, 2002), winner of the Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize, 2003. To the question: How do you think nature is marking the present Mapuche poetry? He stated: The natural element is a substantial part of the vision of life and culture from the Mapuches. I write my poem in the forest hostels. The birds fly and erase what I write with their songs. There is a full contact with the natural surroundings, with the environment in terms of ancestral culture. And the Mapuche has great respect for the nature that surrounds him, that´s to say, all the spiritual maouche world is connected to nature. Part of this sacred vision of nature is transmitted to the poets. The Mapuche culture cannot be understood without this connection (to nature) since the word Mapuche means people of the land.