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Haiku in Zapotec: From Oaxaca to Japan and Back

Jane Hirshfield and Víctor Terán
In Conversation With Poet and Translator David Shook
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Episode Summary

Because of its similar celebration of the beauty of the natural world and focus on compactness, contemporary Zapotec-language poetry shares much in common with the Japanese haiku. Poet Víctor Terán—who’s performed his work from Oaxaca to London—will share some of his translations of the Japanese masters of the form alongside his own original Zapotec haiku, and American poet Jane Hirshfield will discuss both the haiku form and the way that the natural world informs her own work. The program will culminate with the presentation of Terán’s new translation into Zapotec of a poem by Hirshfield and a conversation between the two poets, moderated by David Shook—translator, poet, and publisher of Phoneme Media.

Bilingual program Spanish/English with simultaneous interpretation by Antena Los Ángeles.

This program is produced as part of the Getty's initiative Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.

Participant(s) Bio

Jane Hirshfield is the author of six collections of poetry, including After, Given Sugar, Given Salt, The Lives of the Heart, and The October Palace, as well as a book of essays, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry. She edited and co-translated The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Komachi & Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan, Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women, and Mirabai: Ecstatic Poems. In 2004, Hirshfield was awarded the 70th Academy Fellowship for distinguished poetic achievement by The Academy of American Poets, an honor formerly held by such poets as Robert Frost and Elizabeth Bishop. In 2012, she was elected Chancellor of the Academy. Her newest work, published spring of 2015, is a volume of poetry titled The Beauty, and a book of essays titled Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World.

Víctor Terán was born in Juchitán de Zaragoza in 1958, and his work has been published extensively in magazines and anthologies throughout Mexico. His books of poetry include Sica ti Gubidxa Cubi (Like a new sun) and Ca Guichi Xtí’ Guendaranaxhii (The spines of love). Terán works as a media education teacher at the secondary level on the Oaxacan Isthmus.

David Shook is a poet, translator, and founder of Los Angeles-based nonprofit publishing house Phoneme Media. A graduate of the University of Oklahoma and the University of Oxford, Shook has performed his poetry in dozens of countries, from the Bangla Academy in Dhaka, Bangladesh to London’s Southbank, South by Southwest to PEN Haiti. His writing has appeared in Ambit, the Daily Beast, the Guardian, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Poetry, Poetry Review, and World Literature Today, among many other publications. He is a contributing editor to Ambit, Bengal Lights, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and World Literature Today. Follow Shook on Twitter @yearofpoetry and Instagram @dogamongmen