A poet of the Wayuu Nation in northern Colombia, Miguel Ángel López, or, in Wayuu, Vito Apüshana, did not go to college. Rather, he dedicated his life and his poetry to the discovery of his roots and the search for a dialogue between the rich Amerindian tradition and modern society. He has published four books of poems, and in 2000 was awarded the Latin American literary prize Casa de las Américas for his book Encuentros en los senderos de Abya Yala. In 2002, he was awarded a scholarship to live some months in Mexico, where he wrote the yet unpublished book I Bring Water from the Tezcoco Lake.
Vito Apüshana left his native land when he was thirteen to study in Medellín. Although people he knew insisted that he stay in the city, he decided to return to his native land ten years later. He then travelled around the deserts, beaches and mountains of the Wayuu territory in search of the voice of his people, and finally found himself in the past he had rejected until then.
He explored his true origins and the essence of his people, and he listened to the elusive voices of his ancestors. From that time on, his poetry became a dialogue with his people’s past. It also embraced the hybrid continent that he calls Abya Yala, a Cuna word for America, meaning “land of vital blood” or “land in full maturity”.
In his prizewinning book, Encuentros en los senderos de Abya Yala, he writes:
I speak from the recognition of the Amerindian face,
from the indigenous world of America (Abya Yala) . . .
Here is my song and in my hands the diverse dream,
the intense voice of ancient times, here in my steps is the sweat
of reaffirmation, the throbbing of the defined root,
the look at the serene horizon,
the invitation to multiply encounters
and to increase mutual respect wherever human life breathes . . .
There is here, of course, a political discourse about the conflict between the white population and the indigenous peoples, but it is based on words inspired by the tradition, not by the conflict itself. Although Apüshana does not try to evade this political dimension, his primary concern is to assert that his people have a rich tradition – one which is worth exploring in order to understand all the indigenous peoples of Colombia and the continent, from the pampas to the Amazon River, or, in his words, “from the Andes to as far as the Rocky Mountains”.
Contrabandeo de sueños con Alijunas cercanos (Smuggling of Dreams with Close Alijunas), Universidad de la Guajira, Colección Womainpa, Riohacha, Colombia, 1992)
Encuentros en los senderos de Abya Yala (Encounters in the paths of Abya Yala), Casa de las Americas, La Habana, Cuba, 2001
Pagamentos (Ofrenda a la vida desde el Caribe Indígena de Colombia)
Poemario – Almanaque INTERCOR-CARBOCOL Barranquilla, Colombia, 2001
Apüshana’s page on the International Poetry Festival of Medellín website
Lyrikline website: poems, biography, audio
Antiguos recien llegados Youtube video from the International Poetry Festival of Medellin