Danielle Baker

Into to poetry/ Scanlon


Poetry Reading Response

On November 29th I attended Antonio Barrenechea's reading of "The Popul Vuh" as a part of Native American week. The "Popul Vuh" was considered a Mayan creation myth, or "mind bible", that was consulted by nobels to give counsel and became a part of Guatemala's oral tradition. Originally, the text was written in hieroglyphs and then translated twice into the English version we have today. This version is believed to be "tweaked" because of its mention of Christianity in the Preamble. When Barrenchea began reading, I wondered whether worth should be placed on a copy that may not be true to its original purpose. If the message or cultural beliefs were tweaked by an outside source, I don't see how we can believe in the validity of this copy. So as the reading progressed, I viewed it not as a religious text but more religious fiction with nods to actual Mayan belief. I think the fine line between a "myth" and any official religious text like the Christian bible was blurred for me. If the Mayan's considered this their equivalent to the Christian bible I would not trust the altered version and don't see how any culture would build an entire belief system around it.

. The creation of Earth and man was the main subject of the passage and reflected on the existence of a "Maker or Modeler" and his search of speech. There was an interesting connection between the Mayans and their explanation of their "cruel and fickle" Gods with Greek and Roman gods. In one part of the narrative there is a flood to rid the world of the "mannequins" they created and inanimate objects and animals turned on the them to destroy them, "Everything spoke.". They sought revenge for the mannequin's mistreatment of them. A "Gauger of faces" and "Tearing Jaguar" was even created to destroy the remnants of the mannequins. The gods wanted the human form to hold memory, hearts and minds so they were then able to praise and recognize the god's and their greatness. The theme of humility, destruction, and demolition was interesting as well in relation to the Gods and their creation of the world.

Barrenechea did a mediocre job with his reading in that I could tell he was nervous and not confident in his presentation. Hearing it aloud did create more of a story-like effect to the work and, culturally, the story was probably more often orally delivered than read in text though so it was still a good experience. I thought the story was very interesting because its ideas of creation were a bit zany and not typically heard of. In the beginning, the Earth is created by the gods just by them saying the word "Earth." and it "arose like a cloud". These small interesting sources of imagery and imagination made the reading enjoyable and I imagined it sort of like a movie in my head. I'm not a very religious person but the reading has piqued my interest in studying religions and other creation myths.