Juan Gelman is Argentina's leading poet, but his work has been almost unknown in the United States until now. In 2000, he received the Juan Rulfo Award, one most important literary awards in the Spanish-speaking world, and in 2007, he received the Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world's top literary prize. With this selection, chosen and superbly translated by Joan Lindgren, Gelman's lush and visceral poetry comes alive for an English-speaking readership.
Gelman is a stark witness to the brutality of power, and his poems reflect his suffering at the hands of the Argentine military government (his son, daughter-in-law, and grandchild were "disappeared"). While political idealism infuses his writing, he is not a servant of ideology. Themes of family, exile, the tango, Argentina, and Gelman's Jewish heritage resonate throughout his poems, works that celebrate life while confronting heartache and loss.
"remembering their little bones when it rains/ the compañerosstomp on darkness/set forth from death/wander the tender night/I hear their voices like living faces"—from Remembering Their Little Bones
Born in Buenos Aires in 1930, Juan Gelman went into political exile in Europe in 1976, where he remained until 1989. Today he lives in Mexico City. Joan Lindgren spent seven years studying Gelman's work and made six visits to Argentina while doing her research.
"At last, a marvelous translation into English of the soulful and celebratory and heartbreaking words of Juan Gelman, one of Latin America's most extraordinary poets."—Ariel Dorfman, author of Death and the Maiden
"Perhaps the most admirable element of [Gelman's] poetry is the unthinkable tenderness he shows where paroxysms of rejection and denouncement would be justified, or his calling upon so many shadows for one voice to lull and comfort, a permanent caress of words on unknown tombs."—Julio Cortàzar
"Gelman's poetry is epic in its scope—no corner of life goes unnoticed in this work. Here we find politics and history as seen through one vital human spirit. Rendered in a breathless style, this is the diary of a human heart in a rough world where artistry is the first salvation."—Oscar Hijuelos
"This selection of Juan Gelman's poetry introduces to an English-speaking readership the full range of Argentina's leading poet and a chief architect of Latin America's postcolonial social conscience."—Victor Perera, author of Unfinished Conquest: The Tragedy of Guatemala
"This is a voice that sings and makes others sing. It speaks of struggles and dignity: It offers a faith that springs from doubt and a sense of freeedom strengthened by prison walls. It celebrates life while standing in its very midst."—Eduardo Galeano, from the Foreword
Cervantes Prize, Spanish Cultural Ministry