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How to Be a Good Savage

How to Be a Good Savage

and Other Poems

Mikeas Sánchez
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The latest in the Seedbank series, the debut in English of a groundbreaking Indigenous poet of the Americas.

In a fiercely personal yet authoritative voice, prolific contemporary poet Mikeas Sánchez explores the worldview of the Zoque people of southern Mexico. Her paced, steely lyrics fuse cosmology, lineage, feminism, and environmental activism into a singular body of work that stands for the self and the collective in the same instant. "I am woman and I celebrate every vein," she writes, "where I guard my ancestors' secrets / every Zoque man's word in my mouth / every Zoque woman's wisdom in my spit."How to Be a Good Savage and Other Poems examines the intersection of Zoque struggles against colonialism and empire, and those of North African immigrants and refugees. Sánchez encountered the latter in Barcelona as a revelation, "spreading their white blankets on the ground / as if they'll soon return to sea / flying the sail of the promised land / the land that became a mirage." Other works bring us just as close to similarly imperiled relatives, ancestors, gods, and archetypal Zoque men and women that Sánchez addresses with both deeply prophetic and childlike love.Coming from the only woman to ever publish a book of poetry in Zoque and Spanish, this timely, powerful collection pairs the bilingual originals with an English translation for the first time. This book is for anyone interested in poetry as knowledge, proclaimed with both feet squarely set on ancient ground.


Mikeas Sánchez is the author of How to Be a Good Savage and Other Poems. She is one of the most important poets of the Indigenous Americas, working in Zoque, a language spoken in southern Mexico. She is the only woman to have ever published a book of poetry in that language. Her six volumes of poetry--including Mokaya / Mojk'Jäyä and Mumure' tä' yäjktambä / Todos somos cimarrones--are all bilingual Spanish-Zoque. Sánchez's work has been translated into Bangla, Catalan, English, German, Italian, Maya, Mixe, and Portuguese. In Chiapas, Mexico, she was awarded first place in the "Y el Bolóm dice . . ." Prize for Fiction as well as the Pat O'tan Prize for Indigenous Poetry. Sánchez is a radio producer, translator, community health promoter, and defender of Zoque lands. She lives in Ajway, Chiapas.

Wendy Call is co-editor of Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers' Guide and Best Literary Translations, author of the award-winning No Word for Welcome, and translator of two collections of poetry by Mexican-Zapotec poet Irma Pineda: In the Belly of Night and Other Poems and Nostalgia Doesn't Flow Away Like Riverwater. Her literary projects have been supported by Artist Trust, the Fulbright Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Call serves on the faculty of the Rainier Writing Workshop MFA program and lives in Seattle, on Duwamish land, and in Oaxaca, Mexico, on Mixtec and Zapotec land.Shook is a poet, translator, and editor whose work has spanned a wide range of languages and places. Their writing has appeared in Poetry, World Literature Today, the Guardian, and many other publications, as well as being translated into more than a dozen languages, including Isthmus Zapotec, Kurdish, and Uyghur. Since founding Phoneme Media in 2013,

Shook has edited and published translations from over thirty-five languages. Today they direct Kashkul Books, a publishing project based in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, as well as the translation-focused imprint avión at Gato Negro Ediciones in Mexico City. They reside at Newt Beach in Northern California.


  • Publisher: Milkweed Editions
  • Publish Date: January 09, 2024
  • Pages: 224
  • Dimensions: 6.3 X 8.4 X 0.6 inches | 0.65 pounds
  • Language: English
  • Type: Paperback
  • EAN/UPC: 9781639550203
  • BISAC Categories: Native American, American - Hispanic American
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