© Lucía Iglesias Kuntz
Luisa Futoransky(Argentina, 1939)
Author of some twenty collections of poetry, four novels and two works of non-fiction, Luisa Futoransky's literature traces its path across six decades and five continents. The poems selected here are part of the bilingual project, Affective Cartographies, a compilation that spans this renowned Argentine poet’s body of work. These Affective Cartographies are a rich weave of journeys and places encountered along the way – some intensely immersive, others frivolous, evanescent.
Wielder of an errant and street-bound pen, Futoransky often suggests that she composes with the “soles and sores” of her feet. Her poetry cultivates an intense relationship between the art of walking à la dérive and the act of writing in a manner that renders them almost synonymous: a peripatetic mode of composing that recalibrates the relationship between map and territory in visceral and intimate ways. As the collection unfurls, it gradually weaves an intricate sentimental cartography that stores in its affective textures the multiple layers – cultural, linguistic, spatiotemporal – that accumulate in the everyday experiences of urban life and exile.
Indeed, the register of affect – what the flesh inscribes in its memory, what resides beyond the confines of language – is key to unlocking these Affective Cartographies. Their poetry seeks a vibato of words, or what Roland Barthes referred to as the “shimmers” of language. Meaning unfolds in the interstitial space of what is left unsaid, nestled in between word and emotion.
The aesthetic relationship between the places on this map might be read as a kind of pentimento. A phenomenon typical in oil painting – and painting occupies a privileged place among Futoransky's various passions – il pentimento evokes the different layers of expression that inhabit the same canvas. Well known examples of pentimenti might include the old guitarist who seems unaware of, yet also unsettled by, the specter of a previous tableau hovering behind him; likewise, the transparencies of Doña Isabel de Porcel's sleeve betray the striped suit of the man who had occupied her place on the canvas previously.
Each route that Futoransky’s pen traces across the city brushes new stanzas onto the canvas. But, as she drifts without plot or destination through the urban mesh, her footsteps write and erase at the same time, revealing the palimpsests that beat underneath the surface of the greater (inter)textuality of the city, and everyday life therein. These vital layers infiltrate one another, melding together in a magma – of journeys, encounters, readings, desires, heartbreak, disquiet and ire – that stirs under the surface, seeping through the cracks forming constantly in the veneer.
Constant in this affective map is the underlying resonance of her two "home" cities: Buenos Aires, where she was born in 1939 and lived until 1971; and Paris where she has resided for nearly forty years now. These two urban landscapes – so familiar and yet imbued with a latent and unsettling sensation of the Unheimlich – together provide the mise-en-scène for a series of reflections on the possibilities of an organic language and the rites of poetry as an expression of becoming.
For Futoransky, Buenos Aires is embedded in her bone marrow; it inhabits her spine. Her feet recall each and every paving slab on which they used to tread some time ago. Little by little, Paris has ingrained itself on her skin in a similar way, but her relationship with the City of Light will always be of a different nature. Paris seduces her because the city remains indifferent towards its inhabitants. Whatever Futoransky does, Paris is unmoved, and this gives her great freedom to choose the path she wishes. In contrast, there is nothing indifferent about Buenos Aires. The poet feels a whelming sense of anger at a distance, a sense of indignation that permeates the imaginary of what she describes as a city of appearances and paradoxes, a city with amnesia.
A loyal companion for the road, in literature and dérives, Luisa Futoransky is a poet guided by a spirit of rebellion that is at once profound and thoughtful. She demonstrates an unflinching commitment to those – more often than not women – left out of the grand narratives of history and the canon, or in the best-case scenario reduced to a cursory footnote. There is always something political about her work: the political that comes from the intimate and the feminine and the political as introduced from the peripheries of humanity. Futoransky lets reality irrupt spontaneously within the fiction, leaving exposed – vibrating on the page – the fugacious intensity of the instance of writing.
The poet’s most recent publications are Los años argentinos (2019) and El poema, dos lugares (2018). Her poetry has received awards in France, Spain and Argentina. Most notably, Futoransky was honoured by the French government as a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In 1991, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship, and in 1993 and in 2010, fellowships from the Centre National des Lettres in Paris. In 1997, she was invited as Regent’s Lecturer to the University of California, Berkeley. Futoransky’s work is often cited in studies of contemporary Argentine women’s writing as well as those dealing with issues of exile, transnational identity, language, contemporary Latin American poetry or Argentine writers in Paris. Fluent in Spanish, French, English, Hebrew and Italian, she brings together an incredibly rich array of cultural references inspired by her experiences living in Latin America, Europe and East Asia, which she blends together with distinctive echoes of home (Argentina).
- Babel, Babel. Buenos Aires: Ed. La Loca Poesía, 1968 (poetry)
- Lo regado por lo seco. Buenos Aires: Ed. Noé, 1972 (poetry)
- El nombre de los vientos. Zaragoza: Aljafería, 1976 (poetry)
- Partir, digo (To leave, I say), Valencia: Ed. Prometeo, 1982 (poetry)
- Son cuentos chinos (Those are Chinese tales), Madrid: Ed. Albatros, 1983 (novel)
- El diván de la puerta dorada, Madrid: Ed. Torremozas, 1984 (poetry), received the Carmen Conde Prize
- De Pe a Pa (From Peking to Paris), Barcelona: Editorial Anagrama, 1986 (novel)
- La sanguina, Barcelona: Ed. Taifa, 1987 (poetry)
- Urracas (Magpies), Buenos Aires: Planeta, 1992 (novel)
- La parca, enfrente, Buenos Aires: Libros de Tierra Firme, 1995 (poetry)
- Cortezas y fulgores, Albacete: Editorial Barcarola, 1997 (poetry)
- De dónde son las palabras, Barcelona: Plaza & Janés, 1998 (poetry)
- París, desvelos y quebrantos, New York: Pen Press, 2000 (poetry)
- Estuarios, Buenos Aires: Ediciones del Mate, 2001 (poetry)
- Prender de gajo, Madrid: Editorial Calambur, 2006 (poetry)
- Inclinaciones, Buenos Aires: Editorial Leviatán, 2006 (poetry)
- Seqüana Barrosa, Jerez: EH, 2007 (poetry)
- El Formosa, Buenos Aires: Editorial Leviatán, 2010 (novel)
- 23:53 - Noveleta, Buenos Aires: Editorial Leviatán, 2013 (novel)
- Ortigas (Nettles), Buenos Aires: Editorial Leviatán, 2014 (poetry)
- Marchar de día, Buenos Aires: Editorial Leviatán, 2017 (poetry)
- El poems, dos lugares, Oveido: Ars Poetica, 2018 (poetry)
- Los años argentinos, Buenos Aires: Editorial Leviatán, 2019 (poetry)
- The Duration of the Voyage. Selected Poems. Edited & translated by Jason Weiss. San Diego: Junction Press, 1997
- Nettles. Translated by Philippa Page. London: Shearsman, 2016