F 02/25: Invited Talks in the Emory English Department on Native American Literature – Emil’ Keme

The Emory English Department is hosting a series of speakers on Native American and Indigenous Literature and Culture. Emil’ Keme is the second in this speaker series, with his talk titled: The Maya Environmental Imagination. Humberto Ak’abal’s The Animal Gathering

Join us on Friday, 2/25 at 4:00PM EST over Zoom to hear Emil’ Keme of UNC speak.

Link to Zoom here.

This presentation focuses on K’iche’ Maya poet Humberto Ak’abal’s first book of poetry, The Animal Gathering (1990). I argue that in his invocation of animals, Ak’abal develops a critique of Western modernity and, more specifically, the armed conflict and genocide against Maya peoples in Guatemala. The destruction of the Indigenous world in Abiayala (The Americas)–Ak’abal’s work suggests–has generated a profound crisis in humanity that has come to undermine a loss in our original relationship with animals, Mother Earth, and the planet as a whole.  Ak’abal’s poetry book expresses these concerns through the existential crisis of the poetic voice who, once he encounters the animals invoked, aims to reconnect with them, the natural world, and his ancestral origins.

Emil’ Keme (K’iche’ Maya Nation) is a member of the Maya anticolonial collective Ix’b’alamquej Junajpu Wunaq’ and Associate Professor at UNC-CH. He is the convener of the Critical Ethnic Studies collective at Carolina, and the author of the book Le Maya Q’atzij/Our Maya Word (2021), which was awarded Cuba’s 2020 Casa de las Americas literary criticism prize.