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Gelman, Juan


GELMAN, JUAN (1930– ), Argentinean poet. He was born in Buenos Aires into a family of immigrants from the Ukraine. His political involvement with the left since his youth went together with an active critical dissent, which made him break with the Communist Party in 1964 and with the Montonero Peronist Movement in 1979. In the 1960s he became a journalist in leading magazines and newspapers. He went into exile in Mexico in 1975. In 1976 his son and pregnant daughter-in-law were abducted and murdered by the military government; in 2000 he was able to locate his granddaughter in Montevideo. His poetry expresses his worldview and the tragedies of Argentina through a personal blend of social involvement and pure aesthetics. High poetic language intertwines with colloquial expressions, love poems alternate with protest texts, history and ideology with tiny events of daily life and common people. The poems of dibaxu ("Beneath," 1994) are written in Ladino, in which he saw a means of connecting his Spanish-speaking culture with Jewish identity. Com/posiciones ("Com/positions," 1984) includes his translations-rewritings of poems by Judah Halevi. Among his main books are Violíny otras cuestiones ("Violin and Other Matters," 1956); Gotán ("Tango," 1962); Cólera buey ("Ox-like Anger," 1963 and 1971); Si dulcemente ("If Sweetly," 1980); Salarios del impío ("Wages of the Godless," 1992); Tantear la noche ("Feeling Up the Night," 2000); Incompletamente ("Incompletely," 1997); and Debí decir te amo (Antología personal) ("I Should Have Said I Love You," personal anthology, 1997). Considered a leading poet of the Spanish-speaking world, among the many awards he received are the Argentine Nacional Poetry Prize (1997), the Mexican López Velarde Award (2004), the Iberoamerican Pablo Neruda Prize (2005), and the Queen Sofía Poetry Award in Spain (2005). His work has been translated into ten languages, including Hebrew.


D.B. Lockhart, Jewish Writers of Latin America. A Dictionary (1997); M.C. Sillato, Juan Gelman. Las estrategias de la otredad (1996); R. Spiller, Culturas del Río de la Plata (1973–1975):transgresión e intercambio (1995); S. Schreibman, Selected Poems of Juan Gelman (1990); L. Uribe, La poesía de Juan Gelman (1995).

[Florinda F. Goldberg (2nd ed.)]

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