by Emil’ Keme
University of Minnesota Press, 2021
Paper: 978-1-5179-0808-9 | Cloth: 978-1-5179-0807-2
Library of Congress Classification PQ7492
Dewey Decimal Classification 861.640989742073


Bringing to the fore the voices of Maya authors and what their poetry tells us about resistance, sovereignty, trauma, and regeneration 

In 1954, Guatemala suffered a coup d’etat, resulting in a decades-long civil war. During this period, Indigenous Mayans were subject to displacement, disappearance, and extrajudicial killing. Within the context of the armed conflict and the postwar period in Guatemala, K’iche’ Maya scholar Emil’ Keme identifies three historical phases of Indigenous Maya literary insurgency in which Maya authors use poetry to dignify their distinct cultural, political, gender, sexual, and linguistic identities.

Le Maya Q’atzij / Our Maya Word employs Indigenous and decolonial theoretical frameworks to critically analyze poetic works written by ten contemporary Maya writers from five different Maya nations in Iximulew/Guatemala. Similar to other Maya authors throughout colonial history, these authors and their poetry criticize, in their own creative ways, the continuing colonial assaults to their existence by the nation-state. Throughout, Keme displays the decolonial potentialities and shortcomings proposed by each Maya writer, establishing a new and productive way of understanding Maya living realities and their emancipatory challenges in Iximulew/Guatemala.

This innovative work shows how Indigenous Maya poetics carries out various processes of decolonization and, especially, how Maya literature offers diverse and heterogeneous perspectives about what it means to be Maya in the contemporary world.