You declared war on us

Irma Pineda
Translated from the Spanish by Wendy Call

You declared war on us                 considered us scattered dust                 a puny animal                 dawn’s weak lightNow you know we are many                 friends of the rocks and mountains                 we know the rivers’ language                 we speak with the seaside sandNow you know we are not alone                 thousands of eyes watch over us in the jungle                 and see us dance with death                 and see you cry amidst the trees                 because you too know fear La guerra nos declaraste                 creíste que éramos polvo esparcido                 animal sin fuerzas                 pequeña luz del albaAhora sabes que somos muchos                 compañeros de las piedras y los montes                 conocemos el lenguaje de los ríos                 hablamos con la arena junto al marAhora sabes que no estamos solos                 miles de ojos nos observan desde la selva                 y nos ven danzar junto a la muerte                 y te ven llorar entre los árboles                 porque tú también conoces el miedo Bicaa lulu’ laadu                 nalu’ yu dé reeche nga laadu                 mani’ ma qui gapa stipa                 biaanihuiini’ telayúYanna ma nannu’ staledu                 xpinidu nga guié ne gui’xhi’                 runibia’du ni riní’ ca guiigu’                 rininedu yuxi nexhe’ guriá nisado’Yanna ma nannu’ cadi stubidu nuudu                 stale bezalú cundaachi’ ndaani’ gui’xhi’                 cayuuyaca’ cuyaadu cue’ guendaguti                 ne cayuuyaca’ lii cayuunalu’ lade ca yaga ca                 ti lii laaca runibia’lu’ dxiibi *Irma Pineda self-translated the original Zapotec to Spanish

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Irma Pineda
Wendy Call

Irma Pineda is an Isthmus Zapotec poet and writer. She works as a professor at Universidad Pedagógica Nacional, is a member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and writes a column, “The Flower of the Word,” for La Jornada Semanal. She has written various essays about indigenous languages, literature, and education. Pineda’s most recent collections of poetry are Naxiña’ Rului’ladxe’-Rojo Deseo (Pluralia, 2018 y 2021), Chupa Ladxidua’- Dos es mi Corazón (Secretaría de Cultura, 2018) and Nasiá Racaladxe’- Azul Anhelo (UDLAP, 2020).

Pineda’s poetry has been translated to English, Russian, Italian, Portuguese, German, and other languages, and appears in a diversity of magazines and anthologies in America and Europe. In February 2022, a group of poems from didxazá (translated to English by Wendy Call) were published in Poetry Magazine. She has served as the President of Writers in Indigenous Languages and has received grants from FONCA and Sistema Nacional de Creadores de Arte de México.

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Axel Rivera

Wendy Call ( is co-editor of Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide (Plume/Penguin, 2007), author of No Word for Welcome: The Mexican Village Faces the Global Economy (Nebraska, 2011), and translator of two forthcoming books by Irma Pineda: In the Belly of Night and Other Poems (Pluralia/Song Bridge, 2022) and Nostalgia Doesn’t Flow Away Like Riverwater (Deep Vellum, 2023). She has published English translations of more than one hundred of Pineda’s poems in literary journals. A recent Fulbright Scholar in Colombia, Wendy lives in Seattle, on Duwamish land, and in Oaxaca, on Zapotec / Mixtec land.

February 2022

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Founded in Chicago by Harriet Monroe in 1912, Poetry is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world. Harriet Monroe’s “Open Door” policy, set forth in Volume I of the magazine, remains the most succinct statement of Poetry’s mission: to print the best poetry written today, in whatever style, genre, or approach.

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