Often referred to as the “oldest book in America,” the Popol Vuh is known by many names: The Book of the People, The Council Book, the Sacred Book of the Maya. Carlos Fuentes even referred to it as “the Mayan Bible.” But the K’iche’ etymology of the name offers an image richer than any of these approximations: the words “Popol Vuh” derive, literally, from “the book of the woven mat,” a metaphor elegant in its simplicity. The story serves as a meeting place, a mat where people gather to hear its truth be told.
As it has many names, the Popol Vuh is also many things: it is a work of startling cosmic perspective, a masterpiece of world literature, a founding myth of the Americas, a heroic epic embedded into the cocoon of a creation story, the seeds of a cosmology, and so on. But first and foremost, the Popol Vuh is a rattling good story. In this workshop, students will engage the delights of the Popol Vuh in a brand-new verse translation by Michael Bazzett, the first in the English language, so that the myth can now “sing for our time too.”