Poeta, editor y traductor que reside en Berkeley, California, EE.UU.
-Practice. San Francisco: Sixteen Rivers Press, 2008.
-Buried Treasure. Cleveland State University Poetry Center. Cleveland: Cleveland State University, 1999.
-One Hand on the Wheel. The California Poetry Series. Berkeley: Roundhouse Press, 1999.
-Terrain. With Molly Fisk and Forrest Hamer. New California Voices Series. Book 2. Orinda: Hip Pocket Press, 1998.
Arena del desierto del norte
Y finos granos de carbón en nuestros ojos;
Dejan una delgada capa
Sobre los caminos y los puestos de mercado.
Negra y dorada lluvia de la prosperidad:
La llevamos en nuestros pulmones.
En el límite del pequeño parque,
Los Minás colgados desde ramas bajas en estrechas jaulas
Se encuentran privados de cantar.
Tomo un giro en el camino para buscar un refugio,
Paso por encima de un umbral de la misma forma que uno ahuyenta
A un inquieto fantasma. No hay pájaro alguno
En el cielo.
Ni siquiera en el jardín del Emperador.
Las casas y los autos de los banqueros y jefes políticos,
Están cubiertos de este polvo.
Desert sand from the north
And fine coal-grit blow into our eyes;
They leave a fine layer
Over the market stalls and walks.
Gold-black rain of prosperity:
We take it into our lungs.
At the edge of the little park,
The mynahs hung in tight cages from low branches
Refrain from song.
I take a turn in the path to find shelter,
Step over a threshold the way one wards off
An unquiet ghost. No birds at all
In the upper air.
Even the Emperor’s garden,
The houses and cars of the bankers and party bosses,
Are covered in this dust.
Extraído de Dan BELLM, “Morning, Beijing” in Friends of the Ballona Wetlands, Los Angeles. Traducción de Juan Arabia, 2016.
Foto: Yoel Kahn
Dan Bellm is a writer, editor, and translator living in Berkeley, California. He has published three books of poetry, most recently Practice (Sixteen Rivers Press), winner of a 2009 California Book Award and named one of the Top Ten Poetry Books of 2008 by the Virginia Quarterly Review. He is also co-editor of the newly released anthology from Sixteen Rivers Press, The Place That Inhabits Us: Poems of the San Francisco Bay Watershed (2010). He has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council, and poetry residencies at Yaddo and Dorset Colony House.
Dan’s first book of poems, One Hand on the Wheel, launched the California Poetry Series from Roundhouse Press; his second, Buried Treasure, won the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay DiCastagnola Award and the Cleveland State University Poetry Center Prize. Terrain, a collaboration with poets MollyFisk and Forrest Hamer, was published by Hip Pocket Press.
His poems have appeared in such journals and anthologies as Poetry, Ploughshares, The Threepenny Review, Best American Spiritual Writing, Word of Mouth: An Anthology of Gay American Poetry, Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose About Alzheimer’s Disease, Bearing the Mystery: Twenty Years of Image, and Feathers from the Angel’s Wing: Poems Inspired by the Paintings of Piero della Francesca.
Dan is also a widely published translator of poetry and fiction from Spanish and French, including Sun on the Ceiling (Au soleil du plafond) by Pierre Reverdy (The American Poetry Review, July/August 2009), and Angel’s Kite (La estrella de Angel), by Alberto Blanco (Children’s Book Press, 1994). His translation of Laura Gallego García’s novel, The Legend of the Wandering King (La leyenda del Rey Errante) (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, Inc., 2005) made the American Library Association’s Notable Books for Children list and the School Library Journal’s Outstanding International Books list for 2006. Other translations of poetry and fiction have appeared in Reverdy (New York Review Books/NYRB Poets, 2013), The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry (HarperCollins, 2010), Clamor of Innocence: Stories from Central America (City Lights), Out of the Mirrored Garden: New Fiction by Latin American Women (Anchor Books), and such journals as Circumference, the Kenyon Review, Nimrod International Journal, Poetry International Poetry Northwest, Two Lines, and The Village Voice. He is also a consultant on Spanish-language books for children and youth for Scholastic, Inc.
Dan is available for poetry readings, teaching, and poetry manuscript consultation and critique. He currently teaches The Art of Translation for the Antioch University Los Angeles M.F.A. in Creative Writing Program. For more information, view the Teaching and Readings page.
Dan also works as a freelance writer and editor, with over 20 years of experience in the fields of early childhood education and social services, and is available for a variety of writing and editorial services. For more information, view the Writing and Editing page.
does a person a soul in
a body ever become
new can this be like in the
infinite small hour of an
evening in which there is no
line between the day and night
yet we discern a crossing
over impossible to
say just when and it’s done I
enter the water that springs
from a cleft in the rock here
between myself and you not
even the distance of the
name I wore on my right hand
and as for my eyes what was
visible through a glass I
remove to see do you then
all near to my narrow place
hear me should I call out and
answer from the wide expanse
motion of spirit and breath
voice over the face of the
soundless water saying I
am who I will be can I
rise up reborn will you reach
across the fearful twilight
hour to me reaching for you
were only prayer,
not a thought or word
of one, nor even an
intention; sunlight on grass,
nothing of itself but what it
shows, or a bird that has called out, filled
with purest hearing; well, I have the prayers
in the book, and once again I have lost my
place, dreaming even past the prayer that calls on me
to listen up; must I start it all over, and where
would I begin; how far into the past would I unwind,
how far would a self have to cast itself out before it flew
beyond its reaches, to live, instead of being only lived in;
oh it’s like asking to stop breathing; in the time I’ve spent worrying
the sun turned all to shadow, it began to rain, the scent of the mown grass
lifted into the trees, and now the light and shade have returned to their places
a little further on, in accordance with the number of moments that have passed.
Rabbi Hiyyah, called the Great, once said, I have never in my life prayed with intention.
One time I tried to intend, but only wondered in my heart whether I would be received
before the king, or sent into exile. How was I to know? This, of course, started the other
rabbis talking; Rabbi Samuel admitted, with a shrug, I have been counting chickens; Rabbi
Bun the son of Hiyyah said, I have been counting the layers of stone in the wall, and his eyes lit up
with this woeful confession; Rabbi Mattaniah sighed, since there is always one who feels responsible
for the prayers of all the rest, Then let there be blessings on our heads, for I have noticed that whenever we come
to the last of the benedictions, at which we are commanded to bow down, our heads are bowed of their own accord.
But look, I must have nodded off again, enumerating, losing track of what I meant to praise, drool on my shirt, or
else have had a dream, with none to interpret it; will You not look away from me awhile, as Job cried out, and let me be,
whilst I swallow my own spit? The rain has started falling again, even in the path of the sun, as if there’s no reason to
decide which will be first or last, and a great round of song is circling among the uppermost branches of the spruces. Return to
me, O God, and I’ll return, letting the day begin again even if it’s halfway gone, extolling the One who removes the sleep from
my eyes, the slumber from my eyelids, and gives the rooster discernment to tell day from night; let me count the threads of You that I might tug at,
complicated by being many, simple by being one, and if not to arrive at wanting nothing, which is another desire, then to
yearn for what is given, including the dust and the ash, and the last moment You have counted up for me, wherefore I clap my hand unto my mouth.
de Practice Paperback – March 1, 2008
by Dan Bellm
The young man and woman waiting for the trolley
turn, and spy me treading the Stairmaster
two flights up, and exchange a smile, or really
a smirk, at the man who's climbing nowhere, faster
and faster as the machine demands, death
written on his face, and vanity, and folly.
I remember their effortless scorn—ideally
proportioned as their bodies, gone in a breath—
both of them indestructible, both of them smoking—
but do not admire it, and they want to be admired.
I myself was deathless; now, provoking-
ly, I'm fifty-seven, flabby, easily tired
yet easily grateful, burning calories like prayers
to heaven, climbing the unending stairs.
Vayetze, GENESIS 28:10-32:3
Every seventh year you shall practice remission of debts.
How simple it ought to be, to practice compassion
on someone gone, even love him, long as he’s not
right there in front of me, for I turned to address him,
as I do, and saw that no one’s lived in that spot
for quite some time. O turner-away of prayer—
not much of a God, but he was never meant to be.
For the seventh time I light him a candle; an entire
evening and morning it burns; not a light to see
by, more a reminder of light, a remainder, in a glass
with a prayer on the label and a bar code from the store.
How can he go on? He can’t. Then let him pass
away; he gave what light he could. What more
will I claim, what debt of grace he doesn’t owe?
If I forgive him, he is free to go.
Re’eh, Deuteronomy 11:16–16:17
First evening prayer
It is possible
even in the darkness—
no, it is
that is when your messenger
comes to me,
who has walked unappearing beside me
like starlight in the day,
angel that lives in the dust
of the earth, and knows
the distance of time, and the terrible
space between one human
that can hardly be crossed—
in the dark the messenger
your eyes up—
what I am dreaming I am seeing,
it is coming to be—
and climbs a coil, a rope,
a spinning ladder
that is the way
in the night,
a place of God I didn’t know,
here at the foot of it,
the root of the tree,
not for me to ascend
but to pray to you in the dark,
that you have brought down
the infinite to me
when my head lay on a stone,
one earth wheeling
among the millions of your stars.
Vayetze, Genesis 28:10–32:3