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“For my people the word is truth, feeling, memory, symbol of struggle, of resistance, of identity. To possess it and to re-create it is a way of knowledge, a form of communion with the sacred, a pact with nature, a romance with the universe.”That statement (translated from Spanish) was made by Mazatec poet Juan Gregorio Regino after he won Mexico’s prestigious Nezahualcóyotl Award for Indigenous Literature. The word in question: indigenous.
Now the director of Mexico’s National Institute of Indigenous Languages (INALI), Regino will be among the speakers and poets at UC Santa Barbara’s inaugural Verbal Kaleidoscope: Writers and Scholars in Indigenous Languages and Literatures Conference, presented by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. The event, which is open to the public, will take place from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 4–5 in UCSB’s McCune Conference Room, 6020 Humanities and Social Sciences Building. A poetry reading will be held from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. April 5 in the campus’s Art, Design & Architecture Museum.
“The conference is highly relevant because it emphasizes that indigenous cultures are contemporary cultures, not only manifestations of the past,” said Leo Cabranes-Grant, chair of Spanish and Portuguese at UCSB. “These cultures are here, now, inhabiting our time and our space — we are living together, sharing a common task. And these cultures are creating their own approaches to language, translation and interculturality.”
According to conference organizer Osiris Gómez, a Ph.D. candidate in Spanish and Portuguese, indigenous literature revives native languages as well as philosophical views that have been neglected. As such, the goal of Verbal Kaleidoscope is to explore “the poetic act — written or oral, poetry, theater, narratives, art, film or music — as a factor of visibility for marginalized groups and political action.”
For marginalized people, Gómez said, “the very act of writing is political and a mode of resistance, because not only …