The Other Tiger: Recent Poetry from Latin America

Richard Gwyn
Publication Date: 
Thursday, November 3, 2016
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‘A glittering bilingual anthology.’ – George Szirtes

The Other Tiger serves as a window on what is, to many readers, still another world. It is a great and generous gift, a legacy that will endure.’ – New Welsh Review


The Other Tiger: Recent Poetry from Latin America is an anthology of Spanish language contemporary poetry from the Americas. Produced bilingually, with Spanish and English versions on facing pages, it is a welcome addition to the canon of translation, focusing on poets born since 1945.

Richard Gwyn has arranged the poems thematically – Where We Live; Memory, Childhood, Family; the Natural World; Politics, Journey and Exile; Love, Sex and the Body – to cut across nationality and the generations, illustrating the things poets have in common, and how they differ, across continents.

The Other Tiger (the title is a nod to Borges – “the one not in this poem”) consists of 97 poets from 16 countries, born over five decades. It includes work from Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Nicaragua, Chile, Uruguay, Venezuela, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Bolivia and El Salvador. Among the mix of poets are established names such as Juan Manuel Roca, Daniel Samoilovich, Mirta Rosenberg, Romulo Bustos Aguirre, Clemente Riedemann and Jorge Fondebrider. The younger poets featured include Andres Neuman, Damsi Figueroa, Alejandro Crotto and Carolina Davila.

The resulting anthology is an eclectic and catholic mix of fine poetry and fine translation that opens a window on to a relatively neglected group of literary worlds. The poems are at once exotic and other yet recognizably drawing on a poetic tradition that includes Novel prize-winner Octavio Paz. They conjure big landscapes and moments of tenderness, celebrate the individual but also engage with the politics of so many repressive regimes in Latin and South America. The Other Tiger vividly reflects the many contrasts present in the lives and literatures of the peoples of this continent.


‘By turns delicate and bold, passionate and tender, political and intimate, Richard Gwyn’s vivid translations provide a fascinating and timely introduction to this great poetic continent.’– Daniel Hahn

‘This big, generous, varied and colourful anthology contains a whole continent of marvellous poetry. It is a feat of translation, but also of empathy.’ – Patrick McGuinness

‘This is an indispensable and comprehensive introduction to Spanish American poetry of the last forty years which no reader of poetry should be without. We already know it, thanks to Borges, Cardenal, Neruda, Parra, Paz, and Vallejo, as one of the great world poetries, but what is so exciting here is the deepening sense, as you read on through Richard Gwyn's beautifully voiced, meticulous translations, of that illustrious pantheon being replaced by a new generation of urgent voices, some old acquaintances, some entirely new – some, crucially, of equal significance.’ – W.N. Herbert

‘An incisive overview of recent, innovative writing we're not likely to find elsewhere in English. The preface is solid: informative, intelligent, and immensely useful to both novices and old hands; the thematic organization is revelatory and moves us far from the rather pedantic, strictly historical or geographical focus of so many other anthologies; and the translations are beautiful and to the point. This is a book that belongs in every library, private or institutional, that has shelf-space for volumes of poetry. I think Alastair Reid, to whom the book is dedicated, would have been very happy with the tribute.’ Edith Grossman


Review by Suzy Ceulan Hughes, New Welsh Review

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

(This is an extract. For the full review, see the Wales Arts Review website)


Gwyn is a sensitive translator, using the ‘Poet to Poet’ method to ensure faithfulness to the original and to capture the distinct voice of each of the poets represented here. There were many poems that stood out for me on a first reading, and several poets whose work I should like to know better. And doubtless the list will expand as I dip in again at more leisure. For now, I shall with difficulty pick just one poem from each section: ‘The Dead’ by María Rivera (Mexico), whose lists and repetitions drum, and drum in, the horrifying familiarity of violent death in the poet’s country, serving as a homage to all the lives lost; ‘Cats’ by Darío Jaramillo Agudelo (Colombia), with its striking images and several beautiful two-liners, including, ‘The states of matter are four in number: / liquid, solid, gaseous and cat’; ‘Regent’s Canal’ by Jorge Fondebrider (Argentina), which quietly evokes the disorienting ‘otherness’ felt by a foreigner in a foreign land; ‘Fragment from Tree’ by Jessica Freudenthal Ovando (Bolivia), with its genealogical incantation of family names, relationships, secrets and causes of death; ‘Walking Backwards’ by Humberto Ak’Abal (Guatemala), whose five, brief lines are dense with meaning; and ‘Equatorial Cruise’ by Diana Bellessi (Argentina), whose images haunt both the female narrator and the reader.

If it is hard for me to select six poems from the 155 contained here, how much harder must it have been for Gwyn to select these from the hundreds he must have sifted through? For me, the choice is simply a matter of personal preference in the moment, but Gwyn shouldered the responsibility of choosing poems that would represent not just individual poets, but also literary movements, particular moments in history, entire nations, a whole continent. The Other Tiger serves as a window on what is, to many readers, still another world. It is a great and generous gift, a legacy that will endure.



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