Friday, September 02, 2005

Booknote: País que fue será

Title: País que fue será
Author: Juan Gelman
Publication Information: Buenos Aires: Seix-Barral Biblioteca Breve, 2004
ISBN: 9507314342
Genre: Poetry
Pages: 89

According to the book jacket, Juan Gelman is considered one of the best Argentine living poets. His work has been translated into English, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Swedish, Czech, Turkish, and Portuguese. However, as of this post, I am not aware that his particular book has been translated into English. The book collects a short series of poems. The front page says Mexico 2001-2002, so I am guessing he wrote them there during that year, but there is no note in the edition to clarify this. All the poems are short; none of them take longer than a page, and they are free verse. Gelman approaches various topics, but at times the poetry does not quite seem to connect. While rich in imagery, at times I am not quite sure what the subject is, and since the poems are short, at times you wonder "that's it?" It is "ok" poetry, but it is certainly not the best poetry I have read. However it is a very easy book to read, so for poetry readers looking for something different, this may be it. There are some neat lines, such as this poem, "Saberes" (loosely translated as "Things we know." I have included a translation below:

"Pasé junto al árbol que da flores blancas en invierno
y supe que moriré antes que él.
En mi puerta el sol dora"
pasados por venir."

"[I walked by the tree that gives white flowers in winter
and I knew then that I would die before it.
At my door the sun warms
past times yet to come]"

I think that is a very powerful image; it evokes a strong sense of vision, well, of knowing. Overall, the book has little gems like the poem above, which makes it worth reading, but other poems are of variable quality. Thus my sense that the book is "ok." Unfortunately for English readers, I have not found it translated, but Spanish language readers may want to pick it up.

No comments: