Nieto’s Romance of Sicuani’s Fair

On a plain, where the canyon widens, the old town of Sicuani rises. It claims importance as a regional center and as a place where highlanders and people down canyon come together.  This gathering of different peoples and goods claims an important role in indigenous Andean thought.

To go to a regional fair in highland Peru is to be surrounded with energy and excitement, People from all over gather in a meeting that both celebrates their difference and builds ties among them in buying and selling as well as in romance, drinking, and building friendships. Read the rest of this entry

Nieto’s Song of the Wild Woman’s Retreat

Luís Nieto, the great poet of Cuzco and the author of the Romancero Cholo, does not just write of the young man’s attempts to seduce the chola, the figurative woman of Cuzco, but also of the despair of a broken heart. One would think he writes only of the romantic agency of men, but in this poem we read the words of a young man in sorrow because of the romantic agency of a woman who rejected him. Read the rest of this entry

Nieto’s Reproach in the Air of a Wayno

Chola Bandida y Coqueta

Chola Bandida y Coqueta

There is a saying in Cuzco that you hear all the time: “sacar la vuelta”. In simple English it could mean to betray, but it means more like to open another chat while continuing to chat with your love. There is a sense of anything being possible and nothing being absolutely secure. You never know but that your love is thinking about someone else, all the time she or he is with you.

People gossip about this lots. They will come up to you and say: “I saw Yudith walking hand and hand with some guy by the University the other day.” Or “Come on, come on. Look. There’s your Jhon in that car with a woman.” Read the rest of this entry

“Cholo Soy” (I am a Cholo) Today

Cholo Soy (Photo: Clark)

Cholo Soy (Photo: Clark)

By David Knowlton

A song riffs from headphones and cafes. It bounces softly, rhythmically, almost hypnotically. Most of its words repeat one phrase over and over, a mantra of identity that speaks deeply in this ancient city with a Spanish covering. It simply says “cholo soy”, I am a Cholo.

This version of the classic song of that name by coastal crooner Luís Abanto Morales pares down the original poem of pain and anger to its root, a claim to a culture and an identity. While Morales poem celebrates the rural, mountain origins of Cholos, this version by Jaime Cuadra places the identity of Cholo in a world of electronica and dance music. Read the rest of this entry

La Cholita (Photo: Wayra)

La Cholita (Photo: Wayra)

People say the weather is like Cuzco’s women, capricious. It can change from moment to moment in unexpected ways. While on the surface sexist and patriarchal, this common saying also speaks to the sexual and romantic agency of women who can choose their own lovers and show their own desire. The great poet of Cuzco, Luís Nieto Miranda, is a man who celebrates the identity of Cholos, the class of the in between. Here, he writes of the anguish of being a man, ostensibly macho, in a world where women have their own ideas and power.
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Charanguito, a Poem by Luís Nieto Miranda

Charango Singing (Photo: Alonzo Riley)

Charango Singing (Photo: Alonzo Riley)

The great poet of Cuzco, Luís Nieto Miranda, was a wide ranging poet, politically active and socially engaged. Author of Hymn to Cuzco, anthem to the city of Cuzco, he also published a book of romances built on the life of the ordinary people of Cuzco. Named Cholos because they followed the colonial idea of a people neither indigenous nor Spanish, they occupied towns nearby as well as many of the streets and neighborhoods of Cuzco. Read the rest of this entry

Cuzco’s Sicuani, Nieto’s Small Fatherland

Sicuani, River and Mountains (http://sicuanimividaerestu.blogspot.com/ 2009/06/fotos-de-sicuani.html)

Sicuani, River and Mountains (http://sicuanimividaerestu. blogspot.com/ 2009/06/fotos-de-sicuani.html)

Though he lived other places, the poet Luís Nieto Miranda´s life was marked by Sicuani, a major provincial city of the Department of Cuzco. Located up the Vilcanota river from the Sacred Valley, it is the last major stretch of broad flat valley before the river rises to it origins in the high mountains and in the hot springs just below the pass of La Raya, which in turn opens into the high plateau and the Titicaca basin. Read the rest of this entry

Wind and Flute Wail in Nieto’s Poem

Playing the Quena, an Andean Flute

Playing the Quena, an Andean Flute

Luís Nieto Miranda, the great poet of Cuzco, grasped the Andean landscape and people’s interactions with it in this poem, “The Romance of Wind and Flute”, here in its first translation into English. Wind is a constant presence in the mountainous Andes which rise between the cold Humboldt current and the extensive Amazon. For Nieto it is the counterpart of the flute. Read the rest of this entry

A Ceramic Representation of a Rural Home in Nature

A Ceramic Representation of a Rural Home in Nature

Cuzco’s celebrated poet, Luís Nieto Miranda draws on the traditions of romances to create a set of images of life in the Cuzco of his time. It was and is a place that still is very Andean and one sees that in his work. Read the rest of this entry

Nieto’s Romance of Song and Sorrow

A Couple of Beautiful Butterflies

A Couple of Beautiful Butterflies

Unrequited love, what could be more common and more human. Yet Nieto’s is not the model of the couple dominant in English. We see the couple as the fulfillment of love, even if such was not the case for the troubadours. In the traditions of Cuzco a different image inheres. Read the rest of this entry

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