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This article is taken from PN Review 253, Volume 46 Number 5, May - June 2020.

Mirrors and music
Pere Gimferrer’s Catalan poetry in translation
Trevor Barnett
Over the last twenty years, readers and critics in the English-speaking world have started to catch up with the idea that Spain’s poetry is not always Spanish poetry. A significant proportion of the poetic output in Spain is not in the language of Cervantes, which is hardly surprising in a country where forty per cent of the population live in bilingual regions. In recent years, there have been several important translations into English of poetry written in three of Spain’s regional languages: Galician, Basque, and Catalan. Whilst it is important to resist the nationalism and romanticism that sometimes underlies such endeavours, these translations have helped to change perceptions of poetry from Spain, particularly with English editions of the great Catalan writers. Now in The Catalan Poems we have the long-awaited first translation of Spain’s greatest living poet, Pere Gimferrer.

Pere Gimferrer is a prolific poet, writer, critic, and translator, and he has long been recognised in Spain as one of the foremost intellectuals and original writers working today. Following his early success in Spanish – his second collection, Arde el Mar won Spain’s National Poetry Prize in 1966 – Gimferrer emerged as one of the stars of a generation of poets called the novísimos (the newest ones), the name given to a group of poets who turned their backs on the social poetry of the previous decades. The generation were named after Castellet’s seminal anthology, Nueve Novísimos (Nine Newest Ones), published in 1970. In that same year, Gimferrer’s first collection of poems in Catalan ...

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