Alejandra Pizarnik

Alejandra Pizarnik (April 29, 1936 – September 25, 1972) was an Argentine poet.

Pizarnik byn
Pizarnik photographed by Sara Facio in a public park of Buenos Aires.

Early life

Alejandra Pizarnik was born on April 29, 1936, in Avellaneda, a city in Buenos Aires Province, Argentina,[1] to Jewish immigrant parents from Rowno (now Ukraine).[2][3] She had a difficult childhood, struggling with a marked stutter, acne and self-esteem issues. She also had a marked habit of gaining weight. These contingencies seriously undermined her self-esteem. Because of her negative body image and her continual comparisons to her sister, Alejandra's life became even more complicated. For this same reason, it is possible that she began to take amphetamines—the same drugs that she became strongly addicted to--, which caused long periods of sleeping disorders such as euphoria and insomnia.


A year after entering the department of Philosophy and Letters at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, Pizarnik published her first book of poetry, La tierra más ajena (1955). She took courses in literature, journalism, and philosophy at the university of Buenos Aris, but dropped out in order in order to pursue painting[2] with Juan Batlle Planas.[4] Pizarnik followed her debut work with two more volumes of poems, La última inocencia (1956) and Las aventuras perdidas (1958).

She was an avid reader of fiction and poetry. Beginning with novels, she delved into more literature with similar topics to learn from different points of view. This sparked an interest early on for literature and also for the unconscious, which in turn gave rise to her interest in psychoanalysis.

Pizarnik was apolitical. Her lyricism was influenced by Antonio Porchia, French symbolists—especially Arthur Rimbaud and Stéphane Mallarmé—, the spirit of romanticism and by the surrealists. She wrote poetic books of acute sensitivity and formal restfulness for insinuating imagery. The topics of her books focused on loneliness, childhood, pain, and more than anything, death.

Between 1960 and 1964 Pizarnik lived in Paris, where she worked for the magazine Cuadernos and other French editorials. She published poems and criticism in many newspapers, translated for Antonin Artaud, Henri Michaux, Aimé Césaire, Yves Bonnefoy and Marguerite Duras. She also studied French religious history and literature at the Sorbonne. There she became friends with Julio Cortázar, Rosa Chacel, Silvina Ocampo and Octavio Paz. Paz even wrote the prologue for her fourth poetry book, Árbol de Diana (1962), which showed how much she had matured in Europe as an author.

She returned to Buenos Aires in 1964, and published her best-known books of poetry: Los trabajos y las noches (1965), Extracción de la piedra de la locura (1968) and El infierno musical (1971).

She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1968,[5] and in 1971 a Fulbright Scholarship.[4]

Pizarnik is considered to be one of mid-century Argentina's most powerful and intense poets. Her poetry portrays the life of Latin American women as a bodily destruction by an oppressive and repressive patriarchy.[2]

Pizarnik's poetry claims a clandestine and iconic dimension because the majority of her mature output coincides with the military regimes in Argentine.[2]


Pizarnik ended her life on September 25, 1972, by taking an overdose of Secobarbital sodium[6] at the age of 36[1] one weekend she was on leave from the psychiatric hospital where she was institutionalized.[7] She is buried in Cementerio La Tablada, Buenos Aires, Argentina.[8]


  • The Most Foreign Country (La tierra más ajena) (1955)
    • translated by Yvette Siegert (Ugly Duckling Pressẽ, October 2015)
  • The Final Innocence (La última inocencia) (1956)
    • translated by Yvette Siegert (Ugly Duckling Pressə, October 2016)
  • The Lost Adventures (Las aventuras perdidas) (1958)
  • Diana's Tree (Árbol de Diana) (1962)
    • translated by Yvette Siegert (Ugly Duckling Pressẻ, October 2014)
  • Works and Nights (Los trabajos y las noches) (1965)
    • translated by Yvette Siegert (in Extracting the Stone of Madness: Poems 1962-1972, New Directions, September 2015)
  • Extracting the Stone of Madness (Extracción de la piedra de locura) (1968)
    • translated by Yvette Siegert (in Extracting the Stone of Madness: Poems 1962-1972, New Directions, September 2015)
  • A Musical Hell (El infierno musical) (1971)
    • translated by Yvette Siegert (New Directions, July 2013; reprinted in Extracting the Stone of Madness: Poems 1962-1972 by New Directions, September 2015)
  • The Bloody Countess (La condesa sangrienta) (1971)
  • Exchanging Lives: Poems and Translations, Translator Susan Bassnett, Peepal Tree, 2002. ISBN 978-1-900715-66-9

Further reading

  • "Unmothered Americas: Poetry and universality, Charles Simic, Alejandra Pizarnik, Giannina Braschi", Jaime Rodriguez Matos, dissertaion, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY; Faculty Advisor: Gustavo Perez-Firmat, 2005.
  • “The Sadean Poetics of Solitude in Paz and Pizarnik.” Latin American Literary Review / Rolando Pérez, 2005
  • Review: Art & Literature of the Americas: The 40th anniversary Edition", featuring Alejandra Pizarnik, Christina Peri Rossi, Octavio Paz, Giannina Braschi," edited by Doris Sommer and Tess O'Dwyer, 2006.
  • "Arbol de Alejandra: Pizarnik Reassessed," (monograph) by Karl Posso and Fiona J. Mackintosh, 2007.
  • These are Not Sweet Girls featuring Alejandra Pizarnik, Giannina Braschi, Marjorie Agosin, and Julia Alvarez," White Pine Press, 2000. ISBN 978-1-877727-38-2
  • "La Disolucion En La Obra de Alejandra Pizarnik: Ensombrecimiento de La Existencia y Ocultamiento del Ser," by Ana Maria Rodriguez Francia, 2003. ISBN 978-950-05-1492-7
  • "Cornerstone," from A Musical Hell, Alejandra Pizarnik, trans. Yvette Siegert, in Guernica: A Journal of Literature and Art (online; April 15, 2013).
  • Susan Bassnett (1990). "Speaking with many voices". Knives and Angels: Women Writers in Latin America. Zed Books. pp. 36–. ISBN 978-0-86232-875-7.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Alejandra Pizarnik, biografía. Centro Virtual Cervantes".
  2. ^ A Alejandra Pizarnik en el sesenta aniversario de su nacimiento (1936–1996)
  3. ^ Biografía literaria
  4. ^ a b Frank Graziano (ed.). Alejandra Pizarnik: A Profile, by Alejandra Pizarnik. Translated by Maria Rosa Fort and Frank Graziano with Suzanne Jill Levine. Lodbridge-Rhodes, Inc., 1987. ISBN 978-0-937406-36-6. Archived from the original on 2011-05-16. Retrieved 2011-02-04.
  5. ^ "Alejandra Pizarnik". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. 2011-02-06. Archived from the original on 2011-06-28. Retrieved 2011-02-06.
  6. ^ "Alejandra Pizarnik the Darkest Legacy Left".
  7. ^ Pizarnik, Alejandra (1987). Alejandra Pizarnik: A Profile Issue 2 of Profile Series. Logbridge Rhodes. ISBN 978-0-937406-36-6.
  8. ^ "Alejandra Pizarnik in Find a Grave".

External links


Alejandra is the Spanish form of the Greek female given name Alexandra, and is also the female version of the male names Alejandro and Alexander. Alejandra means "defender of mankind", and notable people with this name include:

Alejandra Ávalos (born 1968), Mexican actress

Alejandra Azcárate (born 1978), Colombian model and actress

Alejandra Barrales (born 1967), Mexican politician

Alejandra Barros (born 1971), Mexican actress

Alejandra Benítez (born 1980), Venezuelan sabre fencer

Alejandra Bogue (born 1965), Mexican actress

Alejandra Bravo (born 1961), Mexican biochemist

Alejandra Da Passano (1947–2014), Argentine actress

Alejandra del Moral Vela (born 1983), Mexican politician

Alejandra Echevarría (born 1989), Spanish model and singer

Alejandra Fosalba (born 1969), Chilean actress

Alejandra García (born 1973), Argentine pole vaulter

Alejandra Granillo (born 1991), Mexican tennis player

Alejandra Gulla (born 1977), Argentine field hockey player

Alejandra Gutierrez (born 1979), Venezuelan actress and model

Alejandra Guzmán (born 1968), Mexican singer and actress

Alejandra Krauss (born 1956), Chilean politician

Alejandra Lazcano (born 1984), Mexican actress

Alejandra Llamas (born 1970), Mexican writer

Alejandra Matus, Chilean journalist and writer

Alejandra Meyer (1937–2007), Mexican actress

Alejandra Oliveras (born 1978), Argentine boxer

Alejandra Pizarnik (1936–1972), Argentine poet

Alejandra Procuna (born 1969), Mexican actress

Alejandra Ramos (born 1958), Chilean athlete

Alejandra Ruddoff (born 1960), Chilean sculptor

Alejandra Sandoval (born 1980), Colombian actress

Alejandra Usquiano (born 1993), Colombian archer

Alejandra Vengoechea (born 1998), Colombian model

Best Translated Book Award

The Best Translated Book Award is an American literary award that recognizes the previous year's best original translation into English, one book of poetry and one of fiction. It was inaugurated in 2008 and is conferred by Three Percent, the online literary magazine of Open Letter Books, which is the book translation press of the University of Rochester. A long list and short list are announced leading up to the award.

The award takes into consideration not only the quality of the translation but the entire package: the work of the original writer, translator, editor, and publisher. The award is "an opportunity to honor and celebrate the translators, editors, publishers, and other literary supporters who help make literature from other cultures available to American readers."In October 2010 announced it would be underwriting the prize with a $25,000 grant. This would allow both the translator and author to receive a $5,000 prize. Prior to this the award did not carry a cash prize.

Ciril Bergles

Ciril Bergles (18 July 1934 – 25 August 2013) was a Slovene poet, essayist and translator. He published numerous collections of poetry and was also known for his translations of poetry, mostly by Spanish and South American authors, into Slovene.Bergles was born in Repče, just outside Ljubljana in 1934. He studied Slovene and English at the University of Ljubljana and worked as a secondary school teacher after graduation. He started publishing his poetry in 1984 with his collection Na poti v tišino (On the Path to Silence). In 2004 he won the Jenko Award for his poetry collection Moj dnevnik priča (My Diary Speaks). He translated poetry by Jorge Guillén, Alejandra Pizarnik, Jaime Gil de Biedma, Adrienne Rich, Fernando Pessoa, Luis Cernuda, Justo Jorge Padrón, Miguel de Unamuno, Constantine Cavafy, Rubén Darío, Ernesto Cardenal, Rafael Alberti, Federico García Lorca and César Vallejo into Slovene. He also published an anthology of Basque poets in Slovene entitled Branil bom očetovo hišo (I Will Defend My Father's House).

César Aira

César Aira (Argentine Spanish: [ˈse.saɾ ˈai.ɾa]; born 23 February 1949 in Coronel Pringles, Buenos Aires Province) is an Argentine writer and translator, and an exponent of Argentine contemporary literature. Aira has published over a hundred short books of stories, novels and essays. In fact, at least since 1993 a hallmark of his work is an almost frenetic level of writing and publication—two to five novella-length books each year. He has lectured at the University of Buenos Aires, on Copi and Arthur Rimbaud, and at the University of Rosario on Constructivism and Stéphane Mallarmé, and has translated and edited books from France, England, Italy, Brazil, Spain, Mexico, and Venezuela.

Elizabeth Azcona Cranwell

Elizabeth Azcona Cranwell (10 March 1933 – 2 December 2004) was an Argentine poet, storyteller, writer, translator, and literary critic. She was born and died in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She was on the faculty of Philosophy and Letters at the University of Buenos Aires. She was a teacher, teaching workshops and seminars. She was also a literary critic for the newspaper La Nación and a translator. She translated the poems of William Shand, the collected poems of Dylan Thomas, and the tales of Edgar Allan Poe.

Azcona Cranwell was the "poeta hermana" of Alejandra Pizarnik, and a contemporary of Joaquín Giannuzzi and Maria Elena Walsh. She was the 1984 Konex Award laureate.

Juan Batlle Planas

Juan Batlle Planas (3 March 1911 in Torroella de Montgrí, Girona, Spain – 8 October 1966 in Buenos Aires, Argentina) was an Argentine painter of Spanish origin belonging to the surrealist school, orienting in later years to romanticism. Many of his works, while obscure, were sombre in feeling, influenced by social unrest and economic and political problems in Argentina. In 1960 he was awarded the Premio Palanza de la Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes de Argentina. Batlle Planas was an influence on numerous Latin American painters, including Roberto Aizenberg. Fashion designer Dalila Puzzovio studied under him.

List of Argentine poets

This list of Argentine poets links birth and death years to corresponding "[year] in poetry" articles:


List of Argentine women writers

This is a list of women writers who were born in Argentina or whose writings are closely associated with this country.

List of Argentine writers

This is a list of Argentine literary figures, including poets, novelists, children's writers, essayists, and scholars.

List of Spanish-language poets

This is a list of notable poets who have written in the Spanish language.

List of experimental women writers

This is a partial list of women who write experimental literature.

María Negroni

María Negroni (born 1951 in Rosario, Argentina) is an Argentinian poet, essayist, novelist and translator.

She graduated from Columbia University, with a PhD in Latin American Literature.

She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College. She was a visiting professor at New York University, in 2008.

Orietta Lozano

Orietta Lozano is a contemporary Colombian poet.Orietta Lozano was born in Cali, Colombia. Lozano served as director of the Biblioteca Municipal del Centenario in Cali. She has been awarded the Eduardo Cote Lamus national prize for her poetry in 1986 and the award for best erotic verse by the Silva Poetry House in 1993. Lozano was invited to the 13th Biennale Internationale des Poètes in Paris in 1995. Her poetry is noted for its sensuality and eroticism.

Rafael Squirru

Rafael Fernando Squirru (March 23, 1925 – March 5, 2016) was an Argentine poet, lecturer, art critic and essayist.

Sara Facio

Sara Facio (born 18 April 1932) is an Argentine photographer. She is best known for having photographed, along with Alicia D'Amico, various cultural personalities, including Argentine writers Julio Cortázar, María Elena Walsh and Alejandra Pizarnik. Facio also was instrumental in establishing a publishing house for photographic work in Latin America and for the creation of a prominent photographic exhibition space in Argentina.

Susana Chavez-Silverman

Susana Chávez-Silverman (born in Los Angeles), is a U.S. Latina writer and professor of Romance Languages and Literature at Pomona College in Claremont, California.

Susana Thénon

Susana Thénon (Buenos Aires, 1935-1991) was an Argentine avant-garde poet, translator, and artistic photographer.The daughter of the psychiatrist Jorge Thénon, she was a member of Argentina's Generación del ’60. Although she was a contemporary of Juana Bignozzi and Alejandra Pizarnik, Thenon was not part of any literary group. She affiliated within the marginal construction that works in her poetry, without adhering to any reigning movement.

Her relationship with other poets of her generation was minimal, with the exceptions of Maria Negroni, who later became one of the compilers in Thenon's posthumous books (La Morada Impossible I and II) and the aforementioned Pizarnik with which she frequented, and along with that published in the literary journal Agua Viva (1960), which was perhaps one of the few signs of her openness to the poetic environment. A gap in her publications occurred between 1970 and 1982 when she was actively engaged in photography, although she continued to write during that period. Thenon also wrote some essays.

Women surrealists

Women Surrealists are women artists, photographers, filmmakers and authors connected with the Surrealism movement, which began in the early 1920s.

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