Juan Gelman, legendary lyricist and poet, inventor of words at the time of Argentina’s dictatorship, died yesterday at age 83 in Mexico City. Gelman was considered an innovative for his ability to reinvent the poetic language and associated aesthetic movements without apparent relation.
Born in Buenos Aires in 1930, from Ukrainian Jewish immigrant parents, he became part of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) and Montoneros guerrillas. In 1975 he went into exile due to the threats from Triple A Argentina.
A year later, his son Marcelo Ariel, and her seven months pregnant daughter in law, Spanish Claudia García, were abducted and killed by the dictatorship. This tragedy resulted in the determination of finding his granddaughter, given to a policeman family in Uruguay. Gelman found his granddaughter, Macarena, in 2000 and in 2011 the American Court of Human Rights condemned the Uruguayan government for her daughter in law’s disappearance and the suppression of the identity of his granddaughter.
The recovery of his work was his eternal struggle. Just a year ago, Gelman was able to gather all his poetry, 29 books in a single volume under the title ‘Gathered Poetry’.
He was awarded with several prizes, including the Cervantes Prize (2007,) the Award of Latin American and Caribbean Juan Rulfo (2000,) and Latin American poetry awards Ramón López Velarde (2003,) Pablo Neruda (2005) and Queen Sofia (2005.)
In August, on his last visit to Buenos Aires, he presented ‘Hoy’, a collection of 300 poems with reflections on Argentina’s reality, including his impressions after hearing the sentencing of the oppressors of the clandestine center where his son was kidnapped.
Last weekend, he published in the Argentine newspaper “Página 12” his latest collaboration, a column against French colonization.