Juan Gelman’s “Oxen Rage”

Remarkably few volumes of poetry by Juan Gelman have been translated into English. This is perhaps because of the unique challenges inherent in translating his work, known for its neologisms, playful and musical language, and political exploitation of ambiguity — Gelman once wrote to his translator, Lisa Rose Bradford, “To be sure is a sickness of our times.” Yet, as a poet who turned to translation to broaden his creative resources, Gelman’s work, I would argue, is not resistant to translation but rather uniquely receptive to it — provided the translator has the guts to tinker with one of the most influential Spanish-language poets of the twentieth century.

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