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Ed. Redbeck Press, 2004. Size 22 x 14 cm. Edited by Daniel Samoilovich and Andrew Graham-Yooll. Introduction by Daniel Samoilovich. Translated by Andrew Graham-Yooll. State: Used, excellent. 110 pages

By Andrew Graham-Yooll
Barracas, Buenos Aires, 2003.

This collection of poetry from Argentina is intended as a first volume in a series of South American poets in English translation. As with many personal ventures, this initial work owes its start more to chance than to serious planning.

Some time in the year 2000, over supper at the British Embassy in Buenos Aires, when Sir Robin Christopher and his wife Lady Merril were at this station, the English poet and architect David Chaloner, one of the guests, remarked emphatically that there was no anthology of young Argentine poets in English.

The discussion as to why there was none did not last long but it prompted me to plan such an anthology. After many years of friendship and occasional work with an acknowledged master of translation, Norman Thomas di Giovanni, who put into English a still
unsurpassed version of the prose and poetic of Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), I felt confident that I could translate the poetry of a varied group of poets.

Such a volume was becoming necessary. The last comprehensive anthology of Argentine poetry in English was published in 1969. The selection and compilation was made by William Shand (1902-97), a British-born expatriate in Argentina, a writer of fiction, theatre and poems, who had translated the poetry of John Donne and Stephen Spender, among others, into Spanish. His rendition of a brief selection from each of 107 Argentine poets of different ages was praised for its broad coverage and for its political balance, taking in writers from the left and the right at a time when Argentina was just beginning its descent into a nightmare of political terror. The Shand anthology has to its credit that a large number of his poets did not vanish into obscurity. (Contemporary Argentine Poetry, An anthology. Fundación Argentina para la Poesía, Buenos Aires, 1969).

One problem in the compilation and translation of a group of young(ish) poets is the risk that as they grow older they may lose
their talent, abandon the genre, or be rejected or forgotten by readers. Obviously, I feel that the present selection is safe in that the twenty poets included here have a strong writing background, are still writing and publishing, and would appear to be determined to continue to do so.

To Daniel Samoilovich, the highly respected Argentine poet, critic, and co-publisher of Diario de Poesía, I owe an enormous debt for his help in the selection of the poets, but also for his patience with the corrections, for his Introduction, and for his agreement to support this venture even when there was not a single line on paper.

When the selection was started, it was decided that those to be translated would be aged forty or under. But because the volume
has taken three years to prepare, some of the poets are now well over that age.

There was not always full agreement between Samoilovich and me on whom to include. The guiding idea was to bring to notice in
English the writing of a generation that came after Argentina’s last dictatorship. Apart from the arbitrary setting of an age limit, the poets to be included had to have at least one book published, and, by a whim of mine, had to be living in Argentina. Since then, at least three poets in the group have left Argentina to live abroad. Another aim, from the start, was to try to break out of Buenos Aires, and find good poets in the provinces, not always a simple task in a country where nearly fifty per cent of the population lives in Greater Buenos Aires. As it is, we have eight poets from the capital, followed by five from Rosario, Argentina’s third largest city.

There were people and styles that Daniel Samoilovich preferred and I disagreed with and by the same token he disliked some of my
choices. But the end product reflects our agreements, and for his enthusiasm, as well as his wise reticence, I am also grateful.
We have left out some good and promising poets in such a brief selection. This is inevitable when limits are set by printing
costs and available funding. But we hope to return to them, and others, in editions planned for the future. We are grateful to David Tipton, of Redbeck Press, in Bradford, who has already printed books by poets from Argentina and Peru, for taking on the publication of this unknown quantity. And, of course, grateful also to the twenty poets included in this volume, who have allowed us to use their writings.

In the end, the reader will have to decide whether or not the choice is a good one and, if from it, a small window is opened on
new writing in Argentina.

Preface by Andrew Graham-Yooll
Introduction by Daniel Samoilovich
Fabian Casas (Buenos Aires)
Walter Cassara (Buenos Aires)
Carolina Cazes (Buenos Aires)
Washington Cucurto(Quilmes)
Edgardo Dobry (Rosario)
Verónica Viola Fisher (Buenos Aires)
Rodrigo Eduardo Galarza (Corrientes)
Martín Gambarotta (Buenos Aires)
Daniel Garcia Helder (Rosario)
Silvio Mattoni (Córdoba)
Roxana Paez (La Plata)
Martín Prieto (Rosario)
Sergio Raimondi (Bahía Blanca)
Patricia Rodón (Mendoza)
Alejandro Rubio (Buenos Aires)
Guillermo Saavedra (Buenos Aires)
Gabriela Saccone (Rosario)
Carlos Schilling (Santa Fe/Córdoba)
Beatriz Vignoli (Rosario)
Laura Wittner (Buenos Aires)
About Andrew Graham-Yooll
About Daniel Samoilovich