Felipe H. Lopez and Brook Lillehaugen


Felipe H. Lopez (poet) is originally from the Zapotec town of San Lucas Quiaviní, Oaxaca. He currently serves as advisor to the Oaxacan State Commission on Human Rights. At the age of 16 he migrated to Los Angeles, California, speaking no English and little Spanish. By 2007 he had earned his Ph.D. from UCLA in urban planning. It was at UCLA that he began working with linguists to document his language, resulting in a trilingual Zapotec-Spanish-English dictionary (Munro & Lopez et al. 1999). His poetry can also be found in the Latin American Literary Review. His short story Liaza chaa ‘I am going home’ was awarded the 2017 Premios CaSa prize for the creation of literature in Zapotec and will be published in the Aug 2018 volume of Latin American Literature Today. This poem, Gyec Muly, has been set to music in an art song by composer Kathryn Goldberg. This music and more of his writing can be found at http://felipehlopez.weebly.com/. The Spanish translation is his own. 

Brook Danielle Lillehaugen (translator) is an assistant professor of linguistics at Haverford College, who specializes in Zapotec languages. Her research profile includes grammatical description as well as collaborative language documentation and revitalization projects. She publishes on the structure of Zapotec languages in both their modern and historical forms. Her English translations of Zapotec are created through close linguistic analysis of the Zapotec along with consultation with the author. She is currently working on English translations for Lopez’s forthcoming book of poetry. Her favorite Oaxacan breakfast is enfrijoladas. For more information on her research and teaching, visit her website at http://brooklillehaugen.weebly.com/

Gyec Muly – The Money Cage – La jaula de dinero



Laty rria muly
zhyet riani loguezh.
 Bzeinya ricy,
 brua ricy.
Tu buny naa?
Dizhsa rgwia,
per nazh dicwat ri ricy.
Wzhiny runua

cuan ra sa?
Lazhzhet bunyi nua.
Gyec mulyi nai.


The place where you can just scoop up money,
it’s far away from home.
I arrived here,
I grew up here.
What kind of person am I?
I speak Zapotec,
but only deaf people live here.
I cry at night—
where is my family?
I live in the foreigners’ country.
This place is a money cage.


El lugar donde se recoge el dinero,
queda lejos del pueblo.

Llegué ahí,
crecí ahí.
¿Quién soy?
Hablo el zapoteco,
pero puras personas sordas habitan ahí.
Lloro de noche—
¿Mi familia donde está?
En tierra de extraños vivo.
Es una jaula de dinero.

© The Acentos Review 2018