Four poems from my translation of Mexican poet Balam Rodrigo’s Central American Book of the Dead appear in Spanish and English in the Summer 2020 issue of Asymptote.

My essay on translating Paul Celan, “Four Lines by Paul Celan,” appears in a new online column from the UK on translation called Paraphrasis.

My translation of Guatemalan writer Eduardo Halfon's story, "The Throwaways" ("Los desechables"), is at LitHub.

Speaking in Song, by Mexican poet Pura López Colomé, in a bilingual edition with translation by Dan Bellm, from Shearsman Books (Bristol, U.K.), September 2017. To order, go to: :

Jorge Esquinca’s poem Nostalghia also came out in 2015 in a handmade fine-art edition (bilingual, with translation by Dan Bellm) from La Diéresis in Mexico City.


Dan Bellm is a widely published translator of poetry and fiction from Spanish and French. He teaches literary translation and poetry in the Antioch University Los Angeles M.F.A. in Creative Writing Program. Dan is a member of the American Literary Translators Association, and has been awarded a Literature Fellowship for Translation from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Other published translations include poems in Feathers from the Angel’s Wing: Poems Inspired by the Paintings of Piero della Francesca (Persea Books, 2016), Reverdy (New York Review Books/NYRB Poets, 2013) and The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry (HarperCollins, 2010); 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 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 Asymptote, Circumference, the Kenyon Review, Nimrod International Journal, Poetry Northwest, Two Lines, and The Village Voice.




  Speaking in Song (hearing and forgetting) / Lieder: Cantos al oído, cantos al olvido, by Pura López Colomé.
Bilingual edition, with translation by Dan Bellm.
Bristol, U.K.: Shearsman Books, 2017.

Among the most ambitious and varied work of Mexican poet Pura López Colomé’s distinguished career, Speaking in Song displays the poet’s extraordinary range and musicality, conducting philosophical interrogations of the natural world—and one’s story, history, and place in it—in the context of hearing and memory, and in the form of song. Many of the poems have been set to music by composers from Mexico, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Poet and translator Robert Hass writes, “Pura López Colomé’s poems have an incandescent inwardness, of the kind that Marina Tsvetaeva said she found in the poems of Rilke. Whether she is speaking of the guava or the avocado, or the sea otter, or the movements of the soul, or the ‘unread places’ of the earth, her poems always feel to me like manuals on how to be fully alive. She is in that way a resource and a gift, and in this book, Dan Bellm’s English has caught her fire and her music almost exactly.”

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  The Song of the Dead / Le chant des morts, by Pierre Reverdy.
Bilingual edition, with translation by Dan Bellm.
New York: Black Square Editions, 2016.

Never before translated into English, The Song of the Dead, a classic work by French surrealist poet Pierre Reverdy, was written in the final days of World War II in northern France, where Reverdy was a partisan in the Resistance movement. Reverdy’s sure command of image creates a poetic sequence of strange eloquence and grandeur, refraining from documentary or narrative in favor of revealing troubled states of soul. The Song of the Dead was first published in 1948, in a handwritten edition with 125 color lithographs by Pablo Picasso.

Novelist Paul Auster has written, "Reverdy's strange landscapes, which combine an intense inwardness with a proliferation of sensual data, bear in them the signs of a continual search for an impossible totality. Almost mystical in their effect, his poems are nevertheless anchored in the minutiae of the everyday world; in their quiet, at times monotone music, the poet seems to evaporate, to vanish into the haunted country he has created. The result is at once beautiful and disquieting, as if Reverdy had emptied the space of the poem in order to let the reader inhabit it."

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Read a review in The Arts Fuse (Boston).



  Description of a Flash of Cobalt Blue, by Jorge Esquinca.
Bilingual edition, with translation by Dan Bellm.
Greensboro, NC: Unicorn Press, 2015.

“Jorge Esquinca, born in Mexico City in 1957 and resident in Guadalajara since 1969, wrote an incandescent, mythic sequence of poems around the death of his father, Descripción de un brillo azul cobalto, which Berkeley poet and translator Dan Bellm renders as Description of a Flash of Cobalt Blue. Every line of this timeless series glitters with vivid, inescapable imagery, ventriloquized by Bellm in lines that sing and burn. Here is the refutation of what got lost for Robert Frost. Dan Bellm’s collaboration with Esquinca’s original produces a heartbreaking metaphysical journey down the dark river.”--Judges’ citation, 2015

Jorge Esquinca has published twelve books of poetry, most recently Teoría del campo unificado (2013) and Cámara nupcial (2015), and numerous books of poetry in translation, including work by Pierre Reverdy, Henri Michaux, Adonis, Anne Carson, H.D., and W. S. Merwin. He has received Mexico’s top poetry award, the Aguascalientes Prize, a national Poetry Translation Prize, and for the present volume, Spain’s Jaime Sabines Spanish-American Poetry Prize. He lives near Guadalajara, Mexico.

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  Nostalghia, a poem by Jorge Esquinca.
Bilingual edition, with translation by Dan Bellm.
Mexico City: La Diéresis Editorial, 2015.

An extended mediation on Piero della Francesca’s renowned 15th-century painting, “La Madonna del Parto” (the pregnant Madonna). Produced in two handmade limited editions, paper-bound or boxed.


  The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry.
Eds. Ilya Kaminsky and Susan Harris. New York: Ecco, 2010.

Edited by Ilya Kaminsky and Susan Harris of Words Without Borders, The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry offers a selection of the finest international poetry from the 20th century in the best English translations available. Providing in many cases the first and only English language translations of acclaimed poets from the world over, The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry is a unique treasure and resource which Gregory Orr proclaims, “a stunning, indispensable anthology” and Edward Hirsch calls, “a modern book of wonders.”


From canonical modernists like Valéry, Vallejo, and Pasternak to younger poets of today, the Ecco Anthology collects an amazing spectrum of poetic voices from around the world.

--John Ashbery


  The Legend of the Wandering King.
Laura Gallego García. Trans. Dan Bellm. New York: Arthur E. Levine Books, 2005.


Set in the deserts of Arabia, this wonderful, fantastical fairy tale, translated from Spanish, is at once fresh and familiar. . . . This beautifully symmetrical tale of the possibility of redemption, of fate vs. free will, of the necessity of heart in art, will enthrall readers young and old.

-- Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Spanish author Garcia writes a captivating, magical tale -- a combination of original legend, philisophical mediation, romance, and adventure … Readers will enjoy the thoughtful ruminations on fate and consequence as much as the thrilling, magical action.

-- Booklist

A riveting and rewarding historical fantasy.

-- San Francisco Chronicle



Angel's Kite/La estrella de Ángel.
Alberto Blanco. Trans. Dan Bellm. San Francisco: Children's Book Press, 1998.

No one knows what happened to the bell in the church tower. Did the priest sell the bell to a foreign collector? Did revolutionaries melt it down and turn the metal into cannons? Or was it just magic? Whatever the reason, the town hasn't been the same since it disappeared. To heal the pain of this loss, Angel, the young kite maker, creates a beautiful kite showing the whole town — including the missing church bell. After an exciting chase and a lonely night on a cold mountaintop with his three loyal dogs, Angel succeeds in bringing back the bell to his beloved town.

Other Translations on the Web

Poems from Speaking in Song, by Mexican poet Pura López Colomé, in Asymptote, Seedings, Circumference, Subtropics, and Tupelo Quarterly.

“Nostalghia,” by Mexican poet Jorge Esquinca, at Image.

“The Track in the Wilderness,” by Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, at Image.

A poem by French performance-poet Serge Pey, in commemoration of the “Charlie Hebdo” killings in Paris, January 2015:

Poems from Night Up North by Fabián Severo (Uruguay):  in Poetry and in Words Without Borders.

Poems from Painted Stars (Étoiles peintes) by Pierre Reverdy at: A Public Space, Circumference: Poetry in Translation and Seedings.

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