Still Life with Flies by Eduardo Chirinos


English Translation by G. J. Racz

The poems in Still Life with Flies are parables of blazing wonder.  Cats, ancient philosophers, saints, lions, birds—the zoo of literary animals, the poet’s business—nothing in these poems is not turned on its head.  In G. J. Racz’s gorgeous translations we are given Eduardo Chirinos writing at the height of his powers, his wit and sorrow streaming into vision.  He is singing for life.  The song is the bird’s / true music, writes Chirinos, its death the true music of the sky. — Joanna Klink, author of Excerpts from a Secret Prophecy


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 172
  • Language: Bilingual: English and Spanish
  • Date Published: August, 2016
  • ISBN: 978-1-939929-53-2


Here we peek in on Chirinos and Racz, two Old Masters in the studio entertaining the muse as she animates a vast tableau across time and space:  light and shade square off, layered cities resurrect, and real animals proliferate into art’s bestiaries.  Here is the language of “absence and fluttering,” poems where “anarchist names contend with those / of saints,” all-seeing poems like winged creatures of the tetramorph.  Here are sudden illuminations in a breakneck tour of the galleries of Creation, from the primordial soup to the Surrealist salon.  In them we find the humble human creator “meticulously dreaming / every leaf, every petal and every tiny thorn” of rose-poems, willful guests at “The Party in the Garden of Logos” — Kelly Washbourne, literary translator, Professor of Spanish, Kent State University

Eduardo Chirinos’ Still Life with Flies has a special combination of ease and self-consciousness reminiscent of late Neruda.  The sensibility is casual, the insights understated, the voice engaging and fluid.  Chirinos was curious about everything.  His poetry celebrates the richness of everyday life, and G.J. Racz’s deft translations render his take on things seamlessly. — Don Bogen, poetry editor, The Cincinnati Review & translator of Europa: Selected Poems of Julio Martínez Mesanza


Fiesta en el Jardín del Logos

De un modo extraño se comportan las
palabras: se arrastran felices en el aire,
revolotean unas frente a otras, lanzan
miradas hacia no se sabe dónde. A veces
se enojan y riñen, es parte del juego. A
veces se abrazan en un tintineo sordo
que apenas puedo escuchar. Yo las veo
danzar en el Jardín del Logos, impregnar
de esperma las celdillas del panal. No
conviene ignorarlas: se ofenden fácilmente
y caen al suelo haciéndose las muertas.
Cuando eso ocurre mejor estar preparado.
Solitas se levantan y se posan en el hombro
para ver qué escribo. Si se reconocen saltan
y sonríen con disimulado orgullo. Si no se
reconocen regresan al Jardín del Logos. Y
siguen danzando como si no les importara.

Party in the Garden of Logos

Words behave strangely, hauling themselves
happily through the air, fluttering about in front
of one another and sending darting glances who
knows where. Sometimes they get angry and
quarrel, but that’s all part of the game. At others,
they embrace amid a muffled tinkling I can barely
hear. I watch them dancing in the Garden of
Logos, fertilizing honeycombs with their sperm.
Still, it’s a good idea not to pay them any mind—
they take offense easily, falling to the ground
and playing dead. When this happens, it’s best
to be prepared. Then they stand up all by their
lonesome and perch on my shoulder to catch what
I’m writing. If they see themselves being used,
they jump for joy and smile with hidden pride. If
not, they return to the Garden of Logos and continue
dancing as if all this didn’t matter to them.


Eduardo ChirinosEduardo Chirinos, born in 1960 in Lima, Peru, was the author of some twenty books of poetry as well as volumes of academic criticism, essays, translations, children’s books, and occasional pieces. A former professor of Spanish at the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures of the University of Montana, his most recent poetry titles include Breve historia de la música (2001, winner of the inaugural Casa de América Prize for Latin American Poetry), Escrito en Missoula (2003), No tengo ruiseñores en el dedo (2006), Humo de incendios lejanos (2009), Catorce formas de melancolía (2010), Mientras el lobo está (2010, winner of the XII Generation of ’27 Poetry Prize), Treinta y cinco lecciones de biología (y tres crónicas dicácticas) (2013), and Medicinas para quebrantamientos del halcón (2014).  Six collections of his poetry have appeared in English, all translated by G. J. Racz:  the anthology Reasons for Writing Poetry (Salt Publishing, 2011), Written in Missoula (The University of Montana Press, 2011), The Smoke of Distant Fires (Open Letter, 2012), While the Wolf Is Around (Diálogos Books, 2014), Thirty-Five Zoology Lessons (and Other Didactic Poems) (DíazGrey Editores, 2015), and Medicine for the Ailments of Falcons (Literal Publishing, 2015).  In 2013, Chirinos was fellow in residence at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation.  He died as this collection was being ushered into print.


G. J. RaczG. J. Racz is professor of Foreign Languages and Literature at LIU Brooklyn, review editor for Translation Review, and past president of the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA).  In addition to his critical writings on literary translation, Racz has contributed poetry translations to The XUL Reader:  An Anthology of Argentine Poetry 1980-1996 (ROOF BOOKS, 1997), José Lezama Lima:  Selections (University of California Press, 2005), and The Oxford Book of Latin American Poetry:  A Bilingual Anthology (Oxford University Press, 2009).  Racz edited Three Comedies by Jaime Salom (University Press of Colorado, 2004), in which his translation of the mock-Renaissance farce Rigmaroles appears.  Racz’s translation of Salom’s Callas and Medea was staged by the Thalia Spanish Theatre in New York City in 2013.  His translations of the Spanish Golden Age dramatists Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s Life Is a Dream and Lope de Vega’s Fuenteovejuna were commissioned for the Norton Anthology of Drama (2009).  The two works were also published as stand-alone volumes, the former in the Penguin Classics series (2006) and the latter by Yale University Press (2010).  His translation of Eduardo Chirinos’s The Smoke of Distant Fires was shortlisted for the PEN Award for Poetry Translation in 2013.

Additional information

Weight 14 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .5 in