Today (Hoy)

Juan Gelman

Translated by Lisa Rose Bradford

Bilingual Edition Trade Paperback, 312 pages, 5.5" x 8.5"
ISBN: 978-1-947918-00-9

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Finalist for the 2019 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation.

World Literature Today "Today / Hoy by Juan Gelman" by Susan Smith Nash, University of Oklahoma

Galatea Resurrects "Eileen Tabios Engages Hoy / Today by Juan Gelman" by Eileen Tabios

Appearing in English translation for the first time, Today (Hoy) by Juan Gelman (1930–2014) is the final book published during the life of one of Latin America's most important and celebrated poets. Written as both a reckoning and a reflection following the 2011 sentencing of those responsible for disappearing Gelman's son Marcelo in 1976 during Argentina's Dirty War, Today's 288 prose poems vacillate between the depths of anguish and celebrations of the day, as the poet wrestles with being, loss, and the central paradox of much of his late verse: the injustice inherent in knowing anything that exists can't help being fully itself, while simultaneously mired in a process of becoming that has no attainable endpoint. Surprising, beautiful, and relentlessly questioning, Gelman's poetry pushes language's capacity for expression to its absolute limit. Readers will find the poems of Today a treasure trove—rich, moving, musical, and full of complex ideas, lingering imagery, and stunning turns of phrase. Feelingly Englished by award-winning translator Lisa Rose Bradford, these gemlike compositions hail the ear and inner eye, and reward rereading, as the more time we spend with Gelman's poems allows light to catch new facets and reveal their brilliance.

Grief and crushing darkness are the inescapable companions of these poems, whose world appears to be as fractured as the grammar and form of Juan Gelman's spare and concentrated verse. In this barbaric place where children are disappeared, where pain never ends and justice is ambivalent, the "poem of harsh lineage" and "unsheltered words" just may find, however, "perfection in the loss." Lisa Rose Bradford translates this difficult news in clean and muscular phrases that push constantly and generatively against the terrible truths of Today.
Sidney Wade

The world of Today is the present, a dark forest, that which is here, within and surrounding each of us: the "Today," a strange extreme, unlimited, insistent, inevitable, ungraspable. There are no words to fathom so much reality. Ungraspable, yet inescapable, the present clamours to be named; this is the adventure into which this book hurls itself headlong. The matter is to take charge of what it is, as it is, along with the sentiments and commotion that what-it-is unleashes, including the horror, the uncertainty, and the black wall of the void, gaping in the proof of the inevitable. The names of Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia sidle up to words like NASDAQ, deconstruction, semiotics, God, and symbolic processes. The book speaks of hunger, capitalism, war, and torture, but also of childhood and love, and of poetry, desire, dread, and language. The challenge is to look everything in the eye, without protection or alibies. Seeing what? A world where all explanation falls short, but Gelman refuses to stop asking questions. When there are no answers, one must continue asking questions.

With words failing to clarify this world, these 288 prose poems encircle it with successive broken attempts, a demented and slippery back and forth in order to perhaps touch something, put something into play. Fragments parched and harsh, estranged among themselves, as if the matter now is one of wresting words from the wall of the unsayable, building a poetry that seeks out its own organization, not to transmit what arises, but rather to let words themselves quicken, "Tangents of the tongue continue working in order to ward off sleep."
Daniel Freidemberg

Juan Gelman's last book is a work that grieves, that savors grief, personal and collective. Or more aptly, as ars poetica, these poems find the impulse to grieve deep in poetry itself—as Gelman has written: "I've never been the owner of my ashes, my poems."

These elegant, chisel's edge inscriptions read like epigrams, like the very first epigrams, which were epitaphs engraved on tombs. The real compression in this poetry—always total—is that "the enormity of the pain covers nothing."

This is a translation that, in its turn, relishes what is lost. Lisa Rose Bradford is remarkably receptive, tuned to the subtlest nuances in Gelman's language, intimate and estranging. This translation is a masterful rendering—and an homage to one of Argentina's greatest poets.
Michelle Gil-Montero

I find it hard to read Hoy/Today without crying, but it's the kind of crying that's good for you. Full of sadness and beauty, spelling out loss and redemption, and absences remembered, the running verses of Juan Gelman's Hoy speak of longing, singing with sentiment and love. And Lisa Rose Bradford's version is every bit as compelling as the original reflected in this bilingual edition. There is pain and sorrow here, but also an almost endless source of passion, and compassion. The saving grace, Juan Gelman seems to say to us, is in the beauty and the rhythm of the verses, ringing as true in Lisa Rose Bradford's elegant translations as in Juan Gelman's moving originals. Juan Gelman is an indispensable figure in human rights—and in the tireless and essential labor of love involved in singing through verse.
Sergio Waisman

This urgent, luminous text is doubly haunted: the poems by the murder of the poet's son, the translations by the death in 2014 of the poet himself. It offers, as Lisa Rose Bradford notes in her fine introduction, "insomniac inventories," flashes of "conflictive beauty," and "extreme condensation of thought and image," as if Gelman were "dragging the canals of thought in order to leave a final testimony." The passion of Gelman's testimony comes through beautifully in Bradford's English.
Geoffrey Brock