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The works of a hundred Latin American women are compiled in this new anthology

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Award-winning writer, editor and filmmaker Sandra Guzman once heard an alarming statistic.

SANDRA GUZMAN: Every 14 days, an Indigenous language dies around the world.

CHANG: And that is in part what prompted her to seek out those voices for a new project. They're among the 140 authors, educators, artists and activists included in a new anthology called "Daughters Of Latin America."

GUZMAN: We are one of the most multilingual, multiethnic, multiracial, multi-religious regions in the world. And so for me, it was really important to convey that diversity. And these are women who have - historically have litten and guided me. And so why not bring together the voices in one volume?

CHANG: Guzman, along with several of the book's writers and translators, spoke to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED about some of the poetry in "Daughters Of Latin America" and guided us through a sampling of their work.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GUZMAN: There are 24 languages in this anthology, the Spanish language and English language, Portuguese, French. But there are also ancestor languages that survived the colonization. So for example, I want you to listen to Rosa Chavez, who is a Maya K’iche’-Kaqchikel poet, artist and activist from Guatemala, and her translator who translated the text from the Spanish, Gabriela Ramirez-Chavez.

ROSA CHAVEZ: (Non-English language spoken).

GABRIELA RAMIREZ-CHAVEZ: Speak to me in the language of time. Shake me in the silence of the stars. Wake me early before drifting back to sleep so I can love you with my domesticated tongue, so your barefoot voice plays inside my body. Speak to me with the sun's tongue. Tell me green words that ripen on my skin. Join your name to mine and love me with your two hearts.

GUZMAN: And here we have Sonia Guinansaca. They are a Kichwa-Kanari poet and culture strategist and activist born in Ecuador and raised in Harlem. And they are reading "Runa" in translation.

SONIA GUINANSACA: (Reading) There's a longing to write this poem in Kichwa. I speak broken Spanish - English with a heavy New York City accent. I wonder if my tongue will ever heal from the breaking, a breaking like when I'm around other Kichwas and I cannot understand them. I wonder sometimes - most times - if I'm real. At age 5, I am plucked from Ecuador and flown to the U.S. For a brief moment, I am given a new name and my hair is cut. And my burgundy luggage goes missing, so I arrive with nothing. I think that I am nothing through middle school. And in high school, I stop existing. I nest in my mouth, quietly. (Non-English language spoken).

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GUZMAN: I lifted the voices of Puerto Rican writers. When anthologies are curated in the United States, for instance, we are often forgotten. And when anthologies are curated in Latin America, we're also forgotten. So we're in this liminal space.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GUZMAN: Here is Esmeralda Santiago, who is a Puerto Rican novelist and memoirist. And she's reading the poem "Me Sangre" - "My Blood."

ESMERALDA SANTIAGO: (Reading) I've left my blood in 49 states, 27 countries on five continents. These days, my blood fills test tubes and spreads across specimen slides. I bleed to delay death, a sanguine stream to unutterable regions, while my defiant blood pulses in the strangest place of all, my children's veins.

GUZMAN: I also center the voices of Afro-Latinas because it's really important for me as an Afro-Indigenous woman to include women who have paved the way for us. Mary Grueso Romero is a poet, children's literature author and Spanish professor out of Colombia. Here she is reading her poem in Spanish - and I did the English translation - "If God Had Been Born Here."

MARY GRUESO ROMERO: (Reading in Spanish).

GUZMAN: If God had been born here, he'd be a fisherman, eat chontaduro and drink borojo. Maria would be Black, big-boned like me, and on top of her head would carry a platter of fish, offering at the top of her lungs through the town's streets to all the townsfolk. I have silky fish, whole and intact - snapper to eat fried, nato for stewing, pollo for sweating and canchimala for tapao.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GUZMAN: To understand Latin America through the lens of its women is to fully understand the cultures and the people that inhabit this region in different parts of the world.

CHANG: That was Sandra Guzman along with writers featured in the book "Daughters Of Latin America," which is out now.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Alejandra Marquez Janse is a producer for NPR's evening news program All Things Considered. She was part of a team that traveled to Uvalde, Texas, months after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary to cover its impact on the community. She also helped script and produce NPR's first bilingual special coverage of the State of the Union – broadcast in Spanish and English.
Ashley Brown is a senior editor for All Things Considered.