Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Hortensia Calvo introduces WWNO listeners to Mayan publishing cooperative Taller Lenateros

October 29th, 2019

Story by Erika Pettersen, Stone Center graduate student and Publicity Assistant

Hortensia Calvo, Director of the Latin American Library, has been featured on two recent installments of WWNO’s Thinking Outside the Book, a radio program that explores the “unusual uses and pleasures of books in readers’ lives.” Host Susan Larson interviews Calvo about handmade books created by Taller Lenateros, a publishing cooperative run by Mayan artists and artisans in Chiapas, Mexico.

During their first conversation, Calvo explains how these self-described lenateros, or “woodlanders,” harvest natural resources from the local forest to employ ancient bookmaking techniques, including the extraction of dyes from wild plants. Their environmentally sustainable practices also include upcycling man-made materials, such as the cotton from women’s huipiles. Calvo then describes and reads from Incantations, a collection of maxims and poetry by Mayan women edited by Taller Lenateros founder Ambar Past with collaborators Xpetra Ernandex and Xalik Guzman Bakbolom.

In their second dialogue, Calvo shares the history of Diccionario de la corazon, or “Dictionary of the Heart,” a book authored by Roberto M. Laughlin and illustrated by Naul Ojeda that translates Tzotzil phrases for “matters of the heart” into Spanish. Additionally, Larson and Calvo unbox a portable Mayan altar that stores three “hex books,” including Hex to Kill the Unfaithful Man, by Tonik Nibak; Mayan Love Charms, by Petra Hernandez, and Magic for a Long Life, by Manwela Kokoroch.

Click here to listen to the full interviews.