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There is an aura of almost legendary prestige that surrounds the life and work of Alejandra Pizarnik.

César Aira

Alejandra Pizarnik

Argentine poet

One of the most significant contributors to twentieth-century Argentine poetry, Alejandra Pizarnik made a name for herself through her dark themes and diction. Heavily influenced by Rimbaud and Artaud, Pizarnik believed that suffering was intrinsic to the creation of great poetry. This concession to misery was apparent in her work as her writing was often filled with themes of solitude, estrangement, madness, and death—yet also included moments of tenderness. During her short lifetime she wrote seven books of poetry and one book of prose, as well as numerous translations, short stories, essays, and drawings. In 1968 she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and later in 1971 she received a Fulbright Scholarship. Pizarnik struggled with depression and ended her life in 1972.

Extracting the Stone of Madness

Poetry by Alejandra Pizarnik

translated by Yvette Siegert

Winner of the 2017 Best Translated Book Award in Poetry

Revered by Octavio Paz and Roberto Bolaño, Alejandra Pizarnik is still a hidden treasure in the U.S. Extracting the Stone of Madness comprises all of her middle to late work, as well as a selection of posthumously published verse. Obsessed with themes of solitude, childhood, madness, and death, Pizarnik explored the shifting valences of the self and the border between speech and silence. In her own words, she was drawn to “the suffering of Baudelaire, the suicide of Nerval, the premature silence of Rimbaud, the mysterious and fleeting presence of Lautréamont,” and to the “unparalleled intensity” of Artaud’s “physical and moral suffering.”

A Musical Hell

Poetry by Alejandra Pizarnik

translated by Yvette Siegert

“An aura of legendary prestige surrounds the work of Alejandra Pizarnik,” writes César Aira. Her last collection to be published before her suicide in 1972, A Musical Hell is the first book of poems by Pizarnik to be published in its entirety in the U.S. Pizarnik writes at the edge of poetic impossibility, opening with a blues singer, expanding into silence, and closing into a theater of shadows and songs of the drowned.

— The flower of distance is blooming. I want you to look through the window and
tell me what you see: inconclusive gestures, illusory objects, failed shapes.… Go
to the window as if you’d been preparing for this your entire life.



Review of A Musical Hell in the New York Journal of Books