Humberto Ak'ab'al

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Humberto Ak'ab'al also Ak'abal or Akabal (born 1952 Momostenango, Totonicapán department) is a K'iche' Maya poet from Guatemala. His poetry has been published in French, English, Estonian, Scots, German, Japanese, Dutch, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Hebrew, Magyar, Arabic and Italian translations, as well as in the original K'iche' and Spanish. Literary critic Carlos Montemayor said that "Humberto Ak'abal embodies indigenous consciousness, its languages, its greatness, its spirituality, its music, its songs, as well as the consciousness of Latin America itself."[1] Spanish Poet Antonio Gamoneda described Ak’abal’s poetry in terms of its “essential humbleness, its elementary sacredness, through which you feel the pulse of words that reveal deeds, things, beings of nature”.[2] Chilean historian Miguel Rojas Mix wrote that “Ak’abal sings like the birds, speaks maya-k’iche’ and thinks like we’d wish most men thinked.”[3]

Ak'abal's book Guardián de la caída de agua (or "Guardian of the Waterfall" in English) was named book of the year by Association of Guatemalan Journalists and in 1993 received their Golden Quetzal award.[4] In 1995 he received an honorary degree from the Department of Humanities of the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala. In 2004 he declined to receive the Guatemala National Prize in Literature because it is named for Miguel Ángel Asturias, whom Ak'abal accused of encouraging racism. He said Asturias' 1923 essay The Social Problem of the Indian, "Offends the indigenous peoples of Guatemala, of which I am part."[5] The young Asturias' proposed remedy to the ills of the Guatemalan nation was a program of eugenics focused on the assimilation of Guatemala’s Indians into its mestizo (in local usage “ladino”) population, a process he would promote by encouraging European immigration.[6]


  • In 1993 he received the Quetzal de Oro from the Guatemalan Association of Journalists.
  • In 1995 he received a Diploma Emeretissimum from the Humanities faculty of San Carlos university.
  • In 1997 was awarded the Swiss Blaise Cendrars prize.
  • In 1998 he received the Premio Continental Canto de América UNESCO prize.
  • In 2004 he was awarded the "Pier Paolo Passolini" international poetry prize in Italy.
  • In 2005 he was made knight of the Order of Arts and Letters (Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) by the French Ministry of Culture.
  • In 2006 he was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, N.Y. USA.[7]
  • In 2010, the International Book Fair of Le Mans, France, was dedicated to Ak'abal.
  • In 2017, the state of Campeche, Mexico, awarded its “Reconcimiento a la trayectoria” diploma to Ak'abal.


  1. ^ "Humberto Akabal". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  2. ^ Ak'abal, Humberto (2001). Ajkem tzij (in Spanish). Cholsamaj Fundacion. ISBN 9789992256404.
  3. ^ Rustrián, Daniel. "Compendio de histórico de Guatemala".
  4. ^ a b "Humberto Ak'abal: Biogrpahy". Humberto Ak'abal. Retrieved 2017-11-27.
  5. ^ "In Brief: Poet Rejects Literary Award". Canadian Broadcasting Centre. 2004-01-23. Retrieved 2008-11-10.
  6. ^ Webre, Stephen (2010-03-26). "Sociología Guatemalteca: El Problema Social del Indio (review)". The Americas. 66 (4): 579–580. doi:10.1353/tam.0.0264. ISSN 1533-6247.
  7. ^ "Guggenheim Foundation 2006 Fellows". John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. 2006. Archived from the original on October 27, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-10.


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