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The Blue & Gray Press | February 24, 2018

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Poetry Lovers Gather for Reading of Mayan ‘Genesis’

By CHELSEA FULLER

For all the self-proclaimed poetry lovers at the University of Mary Washington, Thursday evening poetry readings may be just what you’re looking for.
Nov. 29 brought with it a chilly winter night and a reading of the Polpol Vuh by Antonio Barrenechea, professor of English at UMW. This ancient Mayan poem told a story similar to the Christian Bible’s book of Genesis with a more vengeful twist on the creation of human kind.
While the first chapter of the epic poem ran long, the story and Barrenechea’sengaging voice kept listeners alert and interested. which elders and nobles of the ancient Mayan community would consult. The story of Popol Vuh translates as a “book of counsel.”
When asked why he chose this reading, Barrenechea said it was because “it is a book originally written by Mayan nobles and I wanted to change student’s views on what other ancient cultures looked like, not just in America, but on a global level.”
Barrenechea also stated that, “it also ties in nicely with Native Heritage Week.”
The reading gave students and faculty alike a way of looking at the story of human existence not only through a Native American lens, but also through one that ran south of the border. The poem is one of the oldest known in history, and was originally written in hieroglyphics, then later translated by a monk into a modern version.
Megan Traylor, a sophomore and biology and Spanish major, said, “I love nothing more than a good poem reading, especially when the weather’s this cold!”
The UMW community seemed to openly welcome these readings, with a high turnout that left many attendants standing around the room just to hear the reading. It was clear that Thursday evenings are something many students look forward to.
Unfortunately for all the poem-lovers at UMW, last week’s poetry reading was the final one of the year. However, they will be continued in the spring semester.