What    do    you    need    to    know    about    Juan    Carlos    Galeano?    Juan  Carlos   Galeano    is    a    poet,    translator,    and    essayist    born    in    the Amazon     region    of     Colombia     He     knows     the     magic     by    which  words penetrate   deep   like    a    river.   And      he    like   few   others can    tell about    the    river    and    life    on    the    riverbank   from   his   own   experience. That’s   what he    did    in    his    new    film.   He    is    a    wonderful    storyteller!  He   is    a    wonderful    conversationalist!    He    subtly    feels    poetry   and  knows  the importance of    translating    poems    so    that    they    do    not    lose    their   melody     and   meaning.     Just     read     this     interview     and     enjoy     Juan   Carlos’s answers! JBN:   Tell   us   about   how   being   from   Colombia   influenced   your personality? Juan    Carlos    Galeano:    I    think    that    much    of    my    personality    has something   from   Colombia.   Particularly   the   part   of   Colombia   where   I was   born,   the   Caquetá   area,   the   region   of   the   Caquetá   (Yapurá)   river located   in   the   Amazon   basin.   Regarding   my   background,   I   must   say that   in   our   species   and   other   species   too,   we   all   are   beings   with situated   stories. Any   person,   and   a   writer   too,   has   many   biographies; the   biography   situated   and   influenced   by   the   lands   where   he   was born,   the   biography   of   his   ancestors,   the   biography   of   his   country   and the   biography   of   the   literary   tradition   to   which   he   or   she   belongs   to, etc.   All   fabric   of   life   and   of   our   lives   is   made   of   others,   human   and non-human too, all kind of otherness.   JBN: What inspired you to write your poetry?   Juan   Carlos   Galeano:   I   believe   that   I   got   my   original   inspiration   from   the   lands,   rivers   and   stories   of   peoples   from   Amazonia.   For since   I   was   a   little   one   I   was   in   a   constant   fascination   by   those   rivers,   forests   and   stories   of   indigenous   peoples.   Being   surrounded   by that   environment,   you   definitely   develop   a   different   way   of   experiencing   the   world.   Obviously,   to   that   you   add   the   influence   of   the   books and   writers   that   you   have   read   as   a   child.   I   read   writers   of   adventure   books   like   Julio   Verne   and   later   Hemingway,   and   Dostoevsky,   for example.   I   think   that   you   end   up   writing   because   you   are   fascinated   by   the   way   they   write   about   other   places   of   the   world   different   than yours.    You   want   to   do   the   same   thing   about   the   trees,   rivers,   peoples   that   you   know   best   and   that   is   what   moves   you   to   start   writing about   your   places   and   people   around,   right?   But   this   doesn’t   mean   that   the   poetry   that   I   wrote   as   an   adolescent   about   the   place   make it   worthy   of   being   shared   with   others.   Most   of   the   poems   were   imitations   of   Lorca   and   Neruda   or   Baudelaire   or Arthur   Rimbaud   poetry in   my   late   teens   and   the   years   when   I   moved   to   Bogotá.   What   facilitated   my   writing   about   Amazonia   later   were   my   memories   of childhood   and   the   many   years   I   spent   in   many   the   rivers   of   the   basin   listening   the   oral   narratives   of   Amazonian   riverine   and   forests people.   So   I   could   say   that,   myth   and   storytelling   influenced   my   poetry   writing   as   well   as   my   exposure   in   my   late   adolescent   years   to Japanese poetry, European Surrealism and to the sense of irony of Latin American poets such Nicanor Parra, Cardenal and others.   JBN:    You    translate    some    poets    into    Spanish,    how    do    you    choose    the author? What do you like about translating? Juan   Carlos   Galeano:   For   the   most   part,   you   choose   a   poet   that   you   translate   not only   because   the   subject   that   she   or   he   writes   about   speaks   to   your   heart   but   also because   you   like   their   language   diction.   The   poets   that   I   have   translated   are   poets whose   poetic   constructs   are   colloquial   and   imagistic.   And   This   has   to   do   with   the fact   that   when   I   came   to   the   states   in   my   youth   I   knew   very   little   English   and   the only   poetry   that   was   easy   for   me   to   read   was   Japanese   poetry,   particularly   haikus as   well   as   some   poetry   from American   poets   like   EE   cummings   and   William   Carlos Williams.   What   I   like   about   translation   is   that   above   all,   it   is   an   act   of   creation.   A creation   that   is   very   challenging   because   you   have   to   be   creative   in   a   respectful way   of   the   poetry   of   another   poet.   You   have   to   interpret   the   original   world   of   that author   and   come   up   with   the   right   new   language   and   emotion   that   the   poems   had in   their   original   language   and   bring   it   to   a   new   world,   that   you   know   well,   which   is that   of   your   mother   tongue. And   all   this   needs   to   be   done   in   the   most   austere   way. But,   you   know,   in   reality   translation   is   something   humans   do.   We   are   constantly interpreting   the   world   and   the   world   of   others   to   relate   to   them.   Humans   simply use an array of signs and mediums to translate their surrounding realities.    JBN:   I   read   that   in   your   childhood   you   loved   playing   soccer.   Do   you   have   a favorite team or player? Juan   Carlos   Galeano:   Well,   I   think   that   soccer   is   almost   a   universal   religion   on Earth.   And   yes,   when   we   were   kids   and   when   we   weren’t   swimming,   fishing   and hanging   out   in   canoes   we   were   playing   soccer   on   the   beaches   or   in   the   sand   bars   during   the   dry   season.   I   played   soccer   almost everyday,   in   the   rain   under   the   rain   and   in   lightning,   we   were   little   so   we   didn’t   care.   During   those   years   of   childhood in   Amazonia, those   were   only   radio   days,   and   our   pastime   on   Sunday   afternoon   was   to   get   together   with   other   friends   to   listen   to,   on   the   short   wave radios,   the   games   of   the   soccer   teams   in   Bogotá   the   capital   city   of   Colombia   and   other   distant   places.   Back   in   the   day,   I   wanted   to become   a   goalie   and   my   hero   was   the   Russian   goalie   Lev   Ivánovich   Yashin,   known   as   “la   araña   negra”   (the   black   spider).    At   age   of 10   I   had   a   black   sweater   and   wanted   to   be   like   him.    My   favorite   team   was   the   Brazilian   national   soccer   team,   and   the   beloved   player for us Latin Americans was Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pelé, of course. JBN: What did you learn from writing poetry? Juan   Carlos   Galeano:   Among   the   array   of   challenges   and   joys   of   writing   is   that   of   the   possibility   of   being   the   bearer   of   k   news   of   the world   surrounding   and   beyond   us.   In   all   places   on   earth,   through   love   songs,   chants,   prayers,   spells,   rituals,   myths   sung   in   thatched- roof   longhouses,   temples   or   under   the   stars,   writing   on   a   piece   of   paper   the   poetic   oral   and   written   languages   have   expressed   our human   emotions   of   love,   happiness,   calls   for   justice,   etc.    But   I   think   that   in   order   to   write,   you   have   to   inhabit   the   multiple   subjectivities of   the   world   you   are   writing   about.   Which   means   also   to   allow   those   subjectivities   to   inhabit   you.   In   that   sense   that   expression   of Arthur Rimbaud   “I   is   Other”,   meant   for   many   people   a   phrase   in   connection   to   the   multiples   “others”,   beings   in   our   human   species,    I   would interpret   it   in   connection   to   all   beings   human   and   non-human   and   places   of   the   universe.    Something   like   let   the   earth   with   emotion speaking   through   your   body,   the   body   that   writes   the   poems,   right?    I   like   to   think   also   about   the   poet   as   a   shaman.   In   traditional cultures,   as   you   imagine,   the   shaman,   through   a   spiritual   ecology,   is   able   to   restore   the   healthy   relationships   between   humans   and   the natural   world   representing   in   his   narratives   and   chants   the   world   of   spirits   of   waters   and   forest.   Well,   I   imagine   that   the   poet   summons rivers,   cities,   trees,   rocks,   peoples   etc.,   through   the   magic   spell   of   metaphors,   similes,   and   alliterations,   in   the   mythical   space   of   the white page of his/her poem. The   poet   and   I   say   that   any   artist,   as   poet   Federico   Garcia   Lorca   said   in   his   book   Teoría   y   juego   del   Duende,   wants   to   bring   “the tender   intimacy   of   volcanoes,   ants,   great   winds,   and   the   big   night,   all   of   them   tightly   connected   to   the   Milky Way   waist”.   How   does   the poet   know   the   thoughts   of   a   cloud   or   a   mountain?    I   would   like   to   think   of   the   poet   allowing   him   or   herself   to   inhabit   other   beings   in   a participatory   relationship,   learning   from   the   natural   world.   But,   here   I   must   also   say   that   the   poetic   imagination   is   something   given   to   all members   of   our   species.   It   is   that   possibility   and   sense   of   wonder   that   allows   us   to   connect   the   dots   in   the   universe   that   surrounds   us too.   In   that   sense,   a   good   farmer,   a   fisherman,   a   doctor,   a   mechanic   have   that   possibility. A   poet   is   simply,   as   somebody   said,   a   person who has made a profession of working with words.   JBN: You are also a filmmaker. Tell us what you want to convey in your films Juan   Carlos   Galeano:   I   don’t   know   if   I   would   really   consider   my   identity   as   that   of   a   filmmaker.   I   only   have   made   a   couple   of documentaries   The   Trees   Have   a   Mother   and   this   recent   one   El   Río.   I   think   the   messages   that   I   attempt   to   put   in   them   is   the   poetic view   of   the   world   coming   from   the   perspective   of   Amazonians.   Their   stories   and   sense   of   brotherhood   with   trees   and   rivers   serve   as seeing   instruments   for   our   Western   societies   during   the   Anthropocene.   Their   stories   and   daily   narratives   are   cautionary   tales   for   us. The   legacy   of   their   poetic   oral   narratives   shows   the   spiritual   reality   of   nature,   the   powerful   agency   of   Nature.   In   Amerindian   mythical narratives, the human and non-human world speak to each other in a reciprocal way. JBN: What is your film El Río about?   What inspired you to create it? Juan   Carlos   Galeano:   The   river   focuses   on   the   water   systems   of Amazonia,   I   wanted   to   make   a   film   featuring   riverbank   dwellers   who consider   the   river   an   ally,   as   a   sentient   being,   as   a   mother. And   I   think   that   the   project   of   making   this   documentary   El   Río   is   framed   in the   contemporary   ecological   way   of   thinking   as   we   are   in   the   midst   of   a   big   crisis   in   the   Western   civilization.   This   is   not   an   economic crisis,   a   political   crisis.   It   is   a   systemic   crisis,   where   we   see   the   ecosystems   that   sustain   all   life   on   Earth   starting   to   collapse.   While   it   is true   that   in   the   XX   and   XXI   centuries   the   Western   world   reached   small improvements   with   the   problems   of   gender,   racism,   unequal   distribution of   wealth,   the   great   challenge   for   now   in   the   XXI   century   is   presented   by a    land    devastated    by    the    climate    change    and    the    disappearance    of species,    and    collapsing    of    life    everywhere.    We    have    fought    for multiculturalism   and   that   is   very   good.   But   now,   as   some   say,   it   is   time   to advocate   a   multinaturalism.   A   reciprocity   with   other   species   and   entities different   to   our   human   nature.   And   that's   what   the   film   wants:   to   inspire us   to   have   better   relations   with   the   earth   and   other   species,   with   the   air, the trees and specially with rivers and water ecosystems. JBN: Do you feel support from the people around you? Juan   Carlos   Galeano:   Although   there   has   been   some   collaboration   and help     from     international     filmmakers,     this     film     is     mainly     made     by Amazonians.   Since   I   wanted   to   give   a   different   perspective   on   the   region as   compared   to   images   propagated   by   Hollywood,   television,   our   modern school   systems,   and   other   cultural   media,   through   the   XX   century,   I thought   this   film   would   be   most   effective   if   Amazonians   themselves   told us   the   story   of   their   rivers   and   the   materiality   and   sentience   of   water itself.   I   wanted   to   show   how   the   materiality   of   place   has   a   spirituality.   The film   recognizes   Amazonians   as   the   direct   narrators   of   the   lives   of   their rivers,    and    the    creators    of    their    own    theories    about    the    problematic relationship     between     nature     and     culture.     And     who     better     than Amazonians   themselves   telling   their   stories   and   Amazonian   filmmakers using   their   own   lenses   and   eyes,   to   give   credence   to   their   rivers?   Relying on    the    participation    of    indigenous   Amazonians    during    preproduction, production   and,   as   much   as   possible,   during   the   post-production   stages, I   wanted   them   to   be   part   of   El   Río   not   as   subjects   of   a   study,   but   as participants,   partners   and   collaborators. They   are   the   ones   that   have   been   in   closest   contact   with   their   land. The   film   needed   to   revolve around their sense of place and poetic view of the Amazon. JBN: One last question, what three facts would you like people to know about you? Juan    Carlos    Galeano:    I    am    a    person    who,    in    the    midst    of    our    times,    strongly    believes    in    the    need    of    a    poetic    view,    an interconnectedness   view   of   the   world   for   our   human   species.   As   an   advocate   for   a   multispecies   harmony,   I   believe   in   the   combined efforts   and   all   member   of   the   societies   for   creation   of   new   practices   and   ways   of   experiencing   life,   the   creation   of   a   new   ethics   for   the Earth.
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  Juan Carlos Galeano - an advocate for a multispecies harmony
Interview
Herons By Juan Carlos Galeano                The    fishermen    who    scale    and    gut    their catch   discover   a   river   in   the   bellies   of   the fish. In   the   river   shines   a   sandbar   where   some boys play soccer. A   few   herons   come   to   the   beach,   take   off their feathers, and go for a swim. The    fishermen    wink    at    the    boys    goading them to bathe with the herons. But    the    boys    prefer    to    hide    the    herons’ clothes. Then   the   fishermen   who   scale   and   gut   their fish laugh so hard they fall down, choking. The    herons    dress    themselves    in    the    fish scales and dive into the river. Translated   by   James   Kimbrell   and   Rebecca Morgan
Table By Juan Carlos Galeano The table often dreams of having been an animal. But   if   she   had   been   an   animal,   she   would   not   be   a table. If   she   had   been   an   animal,   she   would   have   run away like the others when   the   chainsaws   came   to   take   the   trees   that would become tables. In the house a woman comes every night and   rubs   a   warm   rag   over   the   table’s   haunches   as if she were an animal. With   her   four   legs,   the   table   could   leave   the   house. But   she   thinks   about   the   chairs   surrounding   her, and an animal would not abandon her family. What   the   table   likes   best   is   for   the   woman   to   tickle her as   she   gathers   the   breadcrumbs   left   behind   by   the children. Translated     by     James     Kimbrell     and     Rebecca Morgan
What    do    you    need    to  know         about         Juan  Carlos    Galeano?    Juan  Carlos    Galeano     is     a  poet,      translator,      and  essayist     born     in     the Amazon         region        of  Colombia      He      knows  the      magic      by     which  words penetrate       deep like    a    river. And      he    like few   others can    tell   about  the     river     and     life     on  the    riverbank   from   his   own   experience.   That’s   what he    did    in  his    new    film.   He    is    a    wonderful    storyteller!    He   is    a    wonderful  conversationalist!     He     subtly     feels     poetry    and     knows     the importance of    translating    poems    so    that    they    do    not    lose    their   melody   and     meaning.     Just     read     this     interview     and     enjoy     Juan Carlos’s answers! JBN:   Tell   us   about   how   being   from   Colombia   influenced   your personality? Juan   Carlos   Galeano:   I   think   that   much   of   my   personality   has something   from   Colombia.   Particularly   the   part   of   Colombia   where I   was   born,   the   Caquetá   area,   the   region   of   the   Caquetá   (Yapurá) river   located   in   the   Amazon   basin.   Regarding   my   background,   I must   say   that   in   our   species   and   other   species   too,   we   all   are beings   with   situated   stories.   Any   person,   and   a   writer   too,   has many   biographies;   the   biography   situated   and   influenced   by   the lands   where   he   was   born,   the   biography   of   his   ancestors,   the biography   of   his   country   and   the   biography   of   the   literary   tradition to   which   he   or   she   belongs   to,   etc. All   fabric   of   life   and   of   our   lives is    made    of    others,    human    and    non-human    too,    all    kind    of otherness.   JBN: What inspired you to write your poetry?   Juan   Carlos   Galeano:   I   believe   that   I   got   my   original   inspiration from   the   lands,   rivers   and   stories   of   peoples   from   Amazonia.   For since   I   was   a   little   one   I   was   in   a   constant   fascination   by   those rivers,     forests     and     stories     of     indigenous     peoples.     Being surrounded   by   that   environment,   you   definitely   develop   a   different way   of   experiencing   the   world.   Obviously,   to   that   you   add   the influence   of   the   books   and   writers   that   you   have   read   as   a   child.   I read    writers    of    adventure    books    like    Julio    Verne    and    later Hemingway,   and   Dostoevsky,   for   example.   I   think   that   you   end   up writing   because   you   are   fascinated   by   the   way   they   write   about other   places   of   the   world   different   than   yours.    You   want   to   do   the same   thing   about   the   trees,   rivers,   peoples   that   you   know   best and   that   is   what   moves   you   to   start   writing   about   your   places   and people   around,   right?   But   this   doesn’t   mean   that   the   poetry   that   I wrote   as   an   adolescent   about   the   place   make   it   worthy   of   being shared   with   others.   Most   of   the   poems   were   imitations   of   Lorca and   Neruda   or   Baudelaire   or   Arthur   Rimbaud   poetry   in   my   late teens   and   the   years   when   I   moved   to   Bogotá.   What   facilitated   my writing   about Amazonia   later   were   my   memories   of   childhood   and the   many   years   I   spent   in   many   the   rivers   of   the   basin   listening the   oral   narratives   of   Amazonian   riverine   and   forests   people.   So   I could   say   that,   myth   and   storytelling   influenced   my   poetry   writing as   well   as   my   exposure   in   my   late   adolescent   years   to   Japanese poetry,   European   Surrealism   and   to   the   sense   of   irony   of   Latin American poets such Nicanor Parra, Cardenal and others.   JBN:   You   translate   some   poets   into   Spanish,   how   do   you choose the author? What do you like about translating? Juan   Carlos   Galeano:   For   the   most   part,   you   choose   a   poet   that you   translate   not   only   because   the   subject   that   she   or   he   writes about    speaks    to    your    heart    but    also    because    you    like    their language    diction.    The    poets    that    I    have    translated    are    poets whose   poetic   constructs   are   colloquial   and   imagistic. And This   has to   do   with   the   fact   that   when   I   came   to   the   states   in   my   youth   I knew   very   little   English   and   the   only   poetry   that   was   easy   for   me to   read   was   Japanese   poetry,   particularly   haikus   as   well   as   some poetry   from American   poets   like   EE   cummings   and   William   Carlos Williams.   What   I   like   about   translation   is   that   above   all,   it   is   an   act of   creation.   A   creation   that   is   very   challenging   because   you   have to   be   creative   in   a   respectful   way   of   the   poetry   of   another   poet. You   have   to   interpret   the   original   world   of   that   author   and   come   up with   the   right   new   language   and   emotion   that   the   poems   had   in their   original   language   and   bring   it   to   a   new   world,   that   you   know well,   which   is   that   of   your   mother   tongue. And   all   this   needs   to   be done   in   the   most   austere   way.   But,   you   know,   in   reality   translation is   something   humans   do.   We   are   constantly   interpreting   the   world and   the   world   of   others   to   relate   to   them.   Humans   simply   use   an array    of    signs    and    mediums    to    translate    their    surrounding realities.    JBN:   I   read   that   in   your   childhood   you   loved   playing   soccer. Do you have a favorite team or player? Juan    Carlos    Galeano:    Well,    I    think    that    soccer    is    almost    a universal   religion   on   Earth. And   yes,   when   we   were   kids   and   when we   weren’t   swimming,   fishing   and   hanging   out   in   canoes   we   were playing   soccer   on   the   beaches   or   in   the   sand   bars   during   the   dry season.   I   played   soccer   almost   everyday,   in   the   rain   under   the rain   and   in   lightning,   we   were   little   so   we   didn’t   care.   During   those years   of   childhood in   Amazonia,   those   were   only   radio   days,   and our   pastime   on   Sunday   afternoon   was   to   get   together   with   other friends   to   listen   to,   on   the   short   wave   radios,   the   games   of   the soccer   teams   in   Bogotá   the   capital   city   of   Colombia   and   other distant   places.   Back   in   the   day,   I   wanted   to   become   a   goalie   and my   hero   was   the   Russian   goalie   Lev   Ivánovich   Yashin,   known   as “la   araña   negra”   (the   black   spider).    At   age   of   10   I   had   a   black sweater   and   wanted   to   be   like   him.    My   favorite   team   was   the Brazilian   national   soccer   team,   and   the   beloved   player   for   us   Latin Americans was Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pelé, of course. JBN: What did you learn from writing poetry? Juan   Carlos   Galeano:   Among   the   array   of   challenges   and   joys   of writing   is   that   of   the   possibility   of   being   the   bearer   of   k   news   of   the world   surrounding   and   beyond   us.   In   all   places   on   earth,   through love    songs,    chants,    prayers,    spells,    rituals,    myths    sung    in thatched-roof   longhouses,   temples   or   under   the   stars,   writing   on   a piece    of    paper    the    poetic    oral    and    written    languages    have expressed    our    human    emotions    of    love,    happiness,    calls    for justice,   etc.    But   I   think   that   in   order   to   write,   you   have   to   inhabit the    multiple    subjectivities    of    the    world    you    are    writing    about. Which   means   also   to   allow   those   subjectivities   to   inhabit   you.   In that   sense   that   expression   of   Arthur   Rimbaud   “I   is   Other”,   meant for   many   people   a   phrase   in   connection   to   the   multiples   “others”, beings   in   our   human   species,    I   would   interpret   it   in   connection   to all   beings   human   and   non-human   and   places   of   the   universe.  Something   like   let   the   earth   with   emotion   speaking   through   your body,   the   body   that   writes   the   poems,   right?    I   like   to   think   also about    the    poet    as    a    shaman.    In    traditional    cultures,    as    you imagine,    the    shaman,    through    a    spiritual    ecology,    is    able    to restore   the   healthy   relationships   between   humans   and   the   natural world   representing   in   his   narratives   and   chants   the   world   of   spirits of    waters    and    forest.    Well,    I    imagine    that    the    poet    summons rivers,   cities,   trees,   rocks,   peoples   etc.,   through   the   magic   spell   of metaphors,   similes,   and   alliterations,   in   the   mythical   space   of   the white page of his/her poem. The   poet   and   I   say   that   any   artist,   as   poet   Federico   Garcia   Lorca said   in   his   book   Teoría   y   juego   del   Duende,   wants   to   bring   “the tender   intimacy   of   volcanoes,   ants,   great   winds,   and   the   big   night, all   of   them   tightly   connected   to   the   Milky Way   waist”.   How   does the   poet   know   the   thoughts   of   a   cloud   or   a   mountain?    I   would   like to   think   of   the   poet   allowing   him   or   herself   to   inhabit   other   beings in   a   participatory   relationship,   learning   from   the   natural   world.   But, here   I   must   also   say   that   the   poetic   imagination   is   something given   to   all   members   of   our   species.   It   is   that   possibility   and   sense of   wonder   that   allows   us   to   connect   the   dots   in   the   universe   that surrounds   us   too.   In   that   sense,   a   good   farmer,   a   fisherman,   a doctor,    a    mechanic    have    that    possibility.   A    poet    is    simply,    as somebody   said,   a   person   who   has   made   a   profession   of   working with words.   JBN:   You   are   also   a   filmmaker.   Tell   us   what   you   want   to convey in your films Juan   Carlos   Galeano:   I   don’t   know   if   I   would   really   consider   my identity   as   that   of   a   filmmaker.   I   only   have   made   a   couple   of documentaries   The   Trees   Have   a   Mother   and   this   recent   one   El Río.   I   think   the   messages   that   I   attempt   to   put   in   them   is   the poetic    view    of    the    world    coming    from    the    perspective    of Amazonians.   Their   stories   and   sense   of   brotherhood   with   trees and   rivers   serve   as   seeing   instruments   for   our   Western   societies during   the   Anthropocene.   Their   stories   and   daily   narratives   are cautionary   tales   for   us.   The   legacy   of   their   poetic   oral   narratives shows    the    spiritual    reality    of    nature,    the    powerful    agency    of Nature.   In   Amerindian   mythical   narratives,   the   human   and   non- human world speak to each other in a reciprocal way. JBN:   What   is   your   film   El   Río   about?         What   inspired   you   to create it? Juan   Carlos   Galeano:   The   river   focuses   on   the   water   systems   of Amazonia,   I   wanted   to   make   a   film   featuring   riverbank   dwellers who   consider   the   river   an   ally,   as   a   sentient   being,   as   a   mother. And   I   think   that   the   project   of   making   this   documentary   El   Río   is framed   in   the   contemporary   ecological   way   of   thinking   as   we   are in   the   midst   of   a   big   crisis   in   the   Western   civilization. This   is   not   an economic   crisis,   a   political   crisis.   It   is   a   systemic   crisis,   where   we see    the    ecosystems    that    sustain    all    life    on    Earth    starting    to collapse.   While   it   is   true   that   in   the   XX   and   XXI   centuries   the Western   world   reached   small   improvements   with   the   problems   of gender,   racism,   unequal   distribution   of   wealth,   the   great   challenge for   now   in   the   XXI   century   is   presented   by   a   land   devastated   by the    climate    change    and    the    disappearance    of    species,    and collapsing   of   life   everywhere.   We   have   fought   for   multiculturalism and   that   is   very   good.   But   now,   as   some   say,   it   is   time   to   advocate a   multinaturalism.   A   reciprocity   with   other   species   and   entities different   to   our   human   nature.   And   that's   what   the   film   wants:   to inspire    us    to    have    better    relations    with    the    earth    and    other species,   with   the   air,   the   trees   and   specially   with   rivers   and   water ecosystems. JBN: Do you feel support from the people around you? Juan     Carlos     Galeano:     Although     there     has     been     some collaboration   and   help   from   international   filmmakers,   this   film   is mainly   made   by   Amazonians.   Since   I   wanted   to   give   a   different perspective   on   the   region   as   compared   to   images   propagated   by Hollywood,    television,    our    modern    school    systems,    and    other cultural   media,   through   the   XX   century,   I   thought   this   film   would be   most   effective   if   Amazonians   themselves   told   us   the   story   of their   rivers   and   the   materiality   and   sentience   of   water   itself.   I wanted   to   show   how   the   materiality   of   place   has   a   spirituality.   The film   recognizes   Amazonians   as   the   direct   narrators   of   the   lives   of their    rivers,    and    the    creators    of    their    own    theories    about    the problematic    relationship    between    nature    and    culture.   And    who better    than    Amazonians    themselves    telling    their    stories    and Amazonian   filmmakers   using   their   own   lenses   and   eyes,   to   give credence   to   their   rivers?   Relying   on   the   participation   of   indigenous Amazonians   during   preproduction,   production   and,   as   much   as possible,   during   the   post-production   stages,   I   wanted   them   to   be part   of   El   Río   not   as   subjects   of   a   study,   but   as   participants, partners   and   collaborators.   They   are   the   ones   that   have   been   in closest   contact   with   their   land.   The   film   needed   to   revolve   around their sense of place and poetic view of the Amazon. JBN:    One    last    question,    what    three    facts    would    you    like people to know about you? Juan   Carlos   Galeano:   I   am   a   person   who,   in   the   midst   of   our times,    strongly    believes    in    the    need    of    a    poetic    view,    an interconnectedness   view   of   the   world   for   our   human   species.   As an   advocate   for   a   multispecies   harmony,   I   believe   in   the   combined efforts    and    all    member    of    the    societies    for    creation    of    new practices   and   ways   of   experiencing   life,   the   creation   of   a   new ethics for the Earth.
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  Juan Carlos Galeano - an advocate for a multispecies harmony
Herons By Juan Carlos Galeano                The   fishermen   who   scale   and   gut   their   catch discover a river in the bellies of the fish. In    the    river    shines    a    sandbar    where    some boys play soccer. A   few   herons   come   to   the   beach,   take   off   their feathers, and go for a swim. The   fishermen   wink   at   the   boys   goading   them to bathe with the herons. But    the    boys    prefer    to    hide    the    herons’ clothes. Then   the   fishermen   who   scale   and   gut   their fish laugh so hard they fall down, choking. The    herons    dress    themselves    in    the    fish scales and dive into the river. Translated by James Kimbrell and Rebecca
Table By Juan Carlos Galeano The    table    often    dreams    of    having    been    an animal. But   if   she   had   been   an   animal,   she   would   not   be a table. If   she   had   been   an   animal,   she   would   have   run away like the others when   the   chainsaws   came   to   take   the   trees   that would become tables. In the house a woman comes every night and   rubs   a   warm   rag   over   the   table’s   haunches as if she were an animal. With    her    four    legs,    the    table    could    leave    the house.     But     she     thinks     about     the     chairs surrounding     her,     and     an     animal     would     not abandon her family. What   the   table   likes   best   is   for   the   woman   to tickle her as   she   gathers   the   breadcrumbs   left   behind   by the children. Translated    by    James    Kimbrell    and    Rebecca Morgan