Yvette Siegert

Translator from the Spanish

Yvette Siegert

Yvette Siegert is a poet and translator based in New York. She has edited for The New Yorker and has taught at Columbia University, Baruch College and the 92nd Street Y. Her writing has appeared in many publications, most recently in Aufgabe, Boston Review, St. Petersburg Review, Stonecutter, The Literary Review and newyorker.com, and her work has received recognition from PEN/New York State Council on the Arts, the Academy of American Poets and the National Endowment for the Arts.

cover image of the book The Abyss

The Abyss

by Fernando Vallejo

Translated by Yvette Siegert

Winner of the Rómulo Gallegos Prize, The Abyss is a caustic masterwork of incredible power and force, an unforgettable autobiographical work of queer fiction. The novel tells about the demise of a crumbling house in Medellín, Colombia. Fernando, a writer, visits his brother Darío, who is dying of AIDS. Recounting their wild philandering and trying to come to terms with his beloved brother’s inevitable death, Fernando rants against the political forces that cause so much suffering. Vallejo is the heir to Céline, Thomas Paine, and Machado de Assis. He hurls vitriolic, savagely funny insults at his country (“I wipe my ass with the new Constitution of Colombia”) and at his mother (“the Crazy Bitch”) who has given birth to him and his many siblings. Within this firestorm of pain, Fernando manages to get across much beauty and truth: that all love is painful and washed in pure sorrow. He loves his sick brother and the family’s Santa Anita farm (the lost paradise of his childhood where azaleas bloomed); and he even loves his country, now torn to shreds. Always, in this savage masterpiece about loss—as if in the eye of Vallejo’s hurricane of talent—we are in the curiously comforting workings of memory and of the writing process itself, as, recollecting time, it offers immortality.

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cover image of the book Killing Plato

Killing Plato

by Chantal Maillard

Translated by Yvette Siegert

The two sequences of this book form a braided ars poetica: “Killing Plato” and “Writing.” The first is a numbered sequence of twenty-eight poems organized around an accident: a pedestrian has been hit by a truck and is dying in the middle of the road. Various characters appear—the philosopher Michel Serres, Robert Musil, a woman smoothing out her stocking, the truck driver, a boy on a balcony, the Spanish poet Jesús Aguado. At the bottom of the page another tale unfolds: a woman bumps into an old friend, a male poet who has written a book called Killing Plato about “a woman who has been knocked over by the force of a sound.” “Writing,” the second part, unfolds as a lyrical meditation on mortality and literary production.

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cover image of the book Extracting the Stone of Madness

Extracting the Stone of Madness

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.”

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cover image of the book A Musical Hell

A Musical Hell

“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

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