With more than eight million speakers, Quechua’s the most widely spoken indigenous language in the Americas. Yet, it’s rare to see the language in books. “It’s hard to find any standard writing since there is not an education in the Quechua language itself,” said Knox College Professor Julio Noriega. “There have been many attempts and they are trying to come up with bilingual education, but it hasn’t gone far.” During a 1993 visit to Peru, Noriega came across a few books written in Quechua, and for the next 20 years or so, he set out to collect as many of these works. All his work has led to his new book, Poesía Quechua en Bolivia – an anthology of poems written in the language spoken in Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador.
Noriega put the book together through funding from Knox and the help of friends, family, and other scholars. Poesía Quechua – published in Peru – features poems in Quechua along with their Spanish translations. Noriega also included a section on how each of these poems has evolved throughout the years and how many versions of it exist. He hopes his book will prove fruitful for other researchers and scholars.
“Since there is no library where you can find a selection of Bolivian Quechua poets, you have this book,” Noriega told Knox College. “For me, this book is kind of like a mobile library. It means my library now will be available wherever you want to take it, and now it’s accessible to everyone.”