Translation: Five Poems by Laura Liuzzi


Laura Liuzzi

Laura Liuzzi was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1985. Her first book of poetry, Calcanhar (Heel, 7Letras), was published in 2010. In 2014 she published Desalinho (Disalignment) with Cosac Naify. In June of this year, she released the pamphlet Coisas (Things) with the publisher 7Letras at FLIP, Brazil’s most prestigious literary festival in Paraty, Rio de Janeiro state.

The poems I have translated here are from her two most recent books, except for “lessons”, which, given how contemporary it is, is uncollected.


it won’t scare us if there’s nothing
left over, on our tables, of
our hairlines, of our certainties.

weeks have gone by now in panic
of going back to what was one day
of going back to what might be one day.

we will die together but we have
the strange capacity to survive
and on we go, worse or better.
death is slow, collective and absurd.

a bus goes by with no known destination
obedient to the yellow stripe on the asphalt.
automatic heads, hands and legs
inside the bus that know, despite of

and perhaps out of stubbornness, how to walk.
we walk over uncertainty’s cold
hard ground. some of us even whistle.

another bus goes by and doesn’t stop
– transport is blind and has no

two bodies can never touch. between them
there will always be a vacuum – the only lesson
learnt sleeping through chemistry classes.

then a touch, an embrace, a kiss, a scratch?

I grab you, embrace you, kiss you, scratch you.
I run you down with my forwardness.
it’s death, but this about how to survive
and surviving.


About a Book

To read at night
in this room
my voice hushed
half sound
half whisper –
to give life
to the book
once placid
to let it use
my voice
surprise me
with each line
of English
until it falls
out of line:
undulates, arches
takes a curve
and vanishes.

(from Desalinho)


It isn’t my feet on the sand
or each morning’s insistence
it’s the interference of longing
and a man sat on the fringe of the beach
it’s the silence of the islands keeping the ocean in place
distracting that inevitable desire to escape
it’s the scaffolding put up in front of the window
fire or emergency escape –
you were my vanishing point
an angel in disguise
part wild card
with a dangerous undertow
and if I’m dragged away
I’ll tell you I’m an ocean liner
haughty, with my eyelids halfway across my eyes.
This isn’t my feet on the street
I promise you ships don’t have feet.
It’s my astronautical soul.

(from Desalinho)


It rains –
it rains even on the fish.
The body sinks
quiet, slow, alive.
Body exiled within itself
vibrating rock, sufficient
under the indifference of the sky.

Coral-corporeal: corridor
of electric fish, but
quiet, slow, alive
in the depth of the sky
they are stars are straits
and it’s nothing:
just the rain and the word rain.

(from Desalinho)


what is the body
it isn’t one thing
the body is many
things: head plexus
heart the body is
blood is shiver
happiness and fear
it is concrete transcendent
is sensation is yes and no
is conscious unconscious
it’s behind and in front
the body has no
address is gypsy
it’s everywoman it’s everyman
the body has
no colour.

what is the body
it isn’t something
you grab
mess with possess
lash at lunge at demean
open pull mount
strain yank out
screw screw screw
scratch bite
screw screw screw
spit on spank
kill the body
is much more than
just one body.

(from Coisas)

Poems by Laura Liuzzi, translated by Rob Packer.

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