The Flights of Zarza, published in 1992, appeared in the decade in which democratic rule returned to Argentina after seven years of brutal dictatorship and state terror, a period which Kofman, a Jew, likened to Germany before and during WWII. The post-dictatorship years of the late 80s were characterised by their rampant consumerism and hyper-inflation, and in an environment that was becoming more and more like a US shopping mall, poetry seemed like one of the last bastions of the ‘internal voice’, no longer an escape from military repression but a refuge for the literary language of a whole society.
For Kofman, however, this was not the end but a new beginning, and his poetry expresses the divide between the past and the need to move on, the break of the new poetry of the 90s with the politics of the 70s. Kofman’s fourth published collection is very much part of this new expression as it follows the androgenous Zarza (here a pugnacious male, there a seductive female) in his / her travels the length and breadth of Argentina and beyond.
Fernando Kofman was born in 1947 in Posadas, capital of the subtropical province of Misiones, but in 1967, he moved south to Buenos Aires and has lived there ever since. He has written poetry, short essays, a handful of plays and six collections of poetry, of which The Flights of Zarza is the fourth. He is currently editor of the literary magazine Frank Baires.
Translated by Ian Taylor.
‘Visible Poets’ translation series no. 22