Friday, April 2, 2021




Translated by Yvette Siegert

Alejandra Pizarnik was born in Buenos Aires to Russian Jewish immigrant parents. She studied philosophy and literature at the University of Buenos Aires before dropping out to pursue painting and her own poetry. In 1960, she moved to Paris, where she befriended writers such as Octavio Paz, Julio Cortázar, and Silvina Ocampo. She is considered as one of Argentina’s most powerful and intense lyric poets. Her poems explore many of Pizarnik’s deepest obsessions: the limitation of language, silence, the body, night, sex, and the nature of intimacy. "An aura of legendary prestige surrounds the work of Alejandra Pizarnik," writes César Aira about her.

According to Emily Cooke, Pizarnik “was perennially mistrustful of her medium, seeming sometimes more interested in silence than in language, and the poetic style she cultivated was terse and intentionally unbeautiful.” Her work has continually attracted new readers since her suicide at age 36. I think her poems while lyrical has surrealistic and symbolist overtones. 

Her prose poems and individual poems are so direct and visceral that it just has an immediate effect upon reading. There's no need of mediation. They are full of uncertainty, throwing the reader (as well as the writer) into a confounding but also intimate struggle. Pizarnik is the kind of poet—like Sylvia Plath, to whom she is often compared—who overwhelms, who puts us under her spell

On Your Anniversary

Accept this face of mine, mute and begging.
Accept this love I ask for.
Accept the part of me that is you.

Eyes Wide Open

Someone, sobbing, measures
the lengths before dawn.  
Someone punches her pillow
in search of an impossible
place of rest.

Your Voice

Ambushed in my writing
you are singing in my poem.
Captive of your sweet voice
engraved in my memory.
Bird intent on its flight.
Air tattooed by an absence.
Clock that keeps time with me
so I never wake up.

Meaning of Her Absence

if I dare
look on and speak
it’s because of her
shadow linked so gently
to my name
far away
in the rain
in my memory
for her burning
face in my poem
beautifully carries
the scent of
a beloved face that’s missing


 Someone goes into the silence and abandons me.
Now solitude is not alone.
You speak like the night.
You announce yourself like thirst.

Naming You

 Not the poem about your absence,
just a drawing, a crevice in the wall,
something in the wind, a bitter taste

Useless Borders

a place
I didn’t say a space
I’m speaking of
I’m speaking of what is not
I’m speaking of what I know

not of time
but of all instants
not of love

a place of absence
a thread of miserable union

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