The North Wind Whips by Víctor Terán

Featuring: Victor Terán, David Shook

Víctor Terán writes in a dialect of Zapotec spoken by a mere 100,000 people living on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Oaxaca province. In spite of its limited extent, this region has produced a succession of notable writers. According to Carlos Montemayor, whose Los escritores indígenas actuales(Indigenous Writers Today) (1992) marks a key moment in the promotion of Mexico's native languages, Isthmus Zapotec can claim to be the most vibrant modern example of the country's indigenous literature.

The aspect of indigenous culture that has most commonly appealed to the literary mainstream in Latin America is its cosmogony, or vision of the universe. Both the Quiché Popol vuh and the Chilam balam of the Lowland Maya feature in works such as Miguel Ángel Asturias's Leyendas de Guatemala (Legends of Guatemala) (1930) and Ernesto Cardenal's Homenaje a los indios americanos (Homage to the American Indians) (1969). Readers looking for these forms of collective myth in Víctor Terán, however, will be surprised. In ‘The North Wind Whips' the speaker muses,

Someone unthinkingly
smoked cigarettes in heaven,
left it overcast, listless.

The image is witty, urbane, a projection of the poet's inner frustration onto the world outside rather than a communally sanctioned vision.

From  'Three Mexican Poets' by Tom Boll.