Cosmic narratology and human exceptionalism in Maya poetry: Villegas’ Yáax K’áak’ [Primordial Fire]

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Since the last quarter of the twentieth century, a pioneering literary movement has taken root and flourished in the Yucatan Peninsula of southeast Mexico. The Maya Literary Renaissance (MLR) is part of a wider Latin American endeavour to revitalise indigenous languages still spoken today. The MLR is also an ecologically inspired movement given its significant focus on the nonhuman environment. This article examines the ecological significance of Wildernain Villegas’ bilingual poem (Maya and Spanish), Yáax K’áak’/Fuego Primigenio [Primordial Fire]. By engaging the poem in dialogue with the philosophies of Michel Serres, Charles Sanders Peirce and Paul Ricoeur, the article makes two interconnected arguments: that Primordial Fire presents literature as a phenomenon that emerges from an underlying narratological potential in the universe, and that, while the poem presents a vision of human exceptionalism, it grounds this vision on our ability to de-centre ourselves by engaging with our more-than-human origins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-184
Number of pages16
JournalGreen Letters
Issue number2
Early online date30 Jun 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Jun 2020


  • biosemiotics
  • culture
  • ecocriticism
  • human
  • myth
  • place


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