Juan Gelman

Juan Gelman (b. 1930, Buenos Aires) is one of the foremost poets writing in Spanish. The son of Jewish-Ukrainian immigrants, he grew up in Argentina speaking Russian at home. This mixed heritage is reflected in the diversity of his influences: notably Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Carlos Gardel, César Vallejo, Celan, Mayakovsky, Dylan Thomas and Saint Teresa of Ávila. He abandoned his studies of chemistry at the University of Buenos Aires to concentrate on his poetry and has since worked as a journalist. Gelman’s son and daughter-in-law were ‘disappeared’ in 1976 during Argentina’s Dirty War. He susequently lived abroad for many years and worked as a translator for UNESCO – themes of exile and loss became increasingly apparent in his work during these years. He has published over twenty-five collections of poetry and prose and has received the Juan Rulfo Prize; the Reina Sofia and Pablo Neruda Prizes; and the Cervantes Prize 2007 – the highest accolade in Spanish Letters. Gelman currently lives in Mexico.

– from the introduction by J.S. Tennant in MPT 3/11 Frontiers