Luisa Futoransky 

Writer of poetry, fiction, and essays, Luisa Futoransky studied at Argentina's University of Buenos Aires where she earned a degree in law. She studied Anglo-Saxon poetry with Jorge Luis Borges and, also in Buenos Aires, completed Opera studies at the Colon Theatre as stage director. In 1970, she left Argentina on a scholarship to the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, after which she went to Rome, Italy, to continue her studies of poetry and opera. She lived in Japan and China between 1976 and 1981 working for the NHK, Channel 3 (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), Musashino Accademia Musicae, and Radio Beijing. Then, she moved to Paris where she has worked as a lecturer nd guide on contemporary art at the Pompidou Center, and as a journalist at the Agence France Presse (AFP). In 1991, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship, and in 1993 and in 2010, a fellowship from the Centre National des Lettres, Paris. In 1997, she was invited as Regentís Lecturer to the University of California, Berkeley. Other American universities as well have frequently invited her, including the University of Colorado, Kenyon College, New York University, and the University of Wyoming. She has also lectured at the University of Toronto, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, as well as at the Sorbonne and the university in Poitiers, France. She also was honored by the French government as a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres. Her poetry has received various awards in France, Spain and Argentina, and is widely published.

translated from the Spanish by Jason Weiss


the skin on my hands conceives intricate ideograms

that I decipher patiently



wildly exalted and proud

or overwhelmed by terrifying pain

I am what I am



Quite late I understood that not only does one not contiinue to grow, but that one

shrinks, not in the shoulders, butall over.

Someone who hadn't seen me in some time said to me: "I thought you were much

taller." Then I began to have to stand on tiptoes in order to grab hold of things that I

used to reach normally. Now I live in the cracks of the baseboard.

To see the world from below. How to reach, the clouds, the table, his mouthís evasion.



for Guadalupe Lara

Since I am a dwarf I can

clearly make out when the Seine because of the barges

parts the water right down the middle

When it cleaves a path

When it pretends not to notice the furrow or the wake

and each side rolls almost to the shore

The Seine is a dark, taciturn river

and treacherous for those who surrender their crimes, treasures

and secrets there.

Sometimes it happens to cast up a quick, bright sparkle

especially when it approaches Our Lady

and languidly spreads out like a peacock

but you shouldnít rely on it, I repeat

Thatís what the clouds warned me

and since I am a dwarf I play

a hand of tute with them


The clouds are very lively

Whatever I tried to do

they always won

until now because Im going

to give them a piece of my mind.



The father sews kimonos.

The mother works as a hairdresser.

Masatsugo plays a taiko drum

and sleeps on the floor in the shop.

The mother yesterday crying told him enough of music

he has to find another way to earn a living.

We went to the Buddhist cemetery for local samurais

strolling with my puppy Tango.

We drank sakť and slept together.

The best thing about him is that even asleep he smiles.


Translated from the Spanish by by Lisa Rappaport

the barren galleons the bloodiest flowers the facades

of discord the bread of the miracle

adjectives and rites lavishly illuminated

by the evil phosphorescent light of the corrupt

rising straight up from the flatness behind the rusted steel of their armatures

out there where the cattle fertilize the ground

but seeds forget to grow

extension of being sentenced to solitude is your name

the exhausted winds pause to regard themselves in your rivulets

pampa of hopelessness

only your fierce tenacity allows you to enter

by the grand door of tragedy


red-hot prairie 

prairie of hanging back where the word discovers the secret

and the birds go mad with fear

hour in which the elements take on a vandalís features

a prolonged shuddering along the spines of the living

hour in which sorcerers blow into the nostrils of the infirm

but donít bring about an auspicious outcome

hour in which the remoteness and proximity of the straits

confound water and earth

hold together, wind

come basilisk, itís your turn

flee, unicorn, for the high grasslands

find refuge in the ladiesí tapestries

the timbers of the omen

are already burning up in their cautious logic

and silence is an enigma that doesnít predict

a single lucky day


between the summit and the valley

the slighter effort, far from exhausted

nothing to disturb the indifference of the flatlands

city whose auspicious medium is moisture

stretched-out octopus, ambiguous and lazy

your embrace is the fevered anguish you impose on others

anxious grey city

in which one must win happiness, inch by inch

city of worthless contraptions and mirages

with your power hidden in darkness

with you, pacts of honor

are destined to failure

city lost in sterile oratory

and in the infernal rhetoric of the possessed

preordained from the start to condemnation

when algae takes possession of your shrillness

and slime consoles itself in your bodegas

how deeply you plunge into the mirrorless night

who would take pity on your arrogance?

when fish hold back their spawn

from the sham of your edifices

once again an ingenue, a madman, a soldier

a fanatic, a go-getter, or all of them together

or someone with all these defects and virtues, and more

will erect a fort in the desert

and summon you in some new or old way

Buenos Aires, 1964


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