Extracting the Stone of Madness: Poems 1962-1972 by Alejandra Pizarnik, translated by Yvette Siegert / ISBN 9780811223966 / 265-page paperback from New Directions
The first full-length collection in English by one of Latin America’s most significant twentieth-century poets.
Revered by the likes of Octavio Paz and Roberto Bolano, Alejandra Pizarnik is still a hidden treasure in the U.S. Extracting the Stone of Madness: Poems 1962–1972 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,” as well as to the “unparalleled intensity” of Artaud’s “physical and moral suffering.”
Alejandra Pizarnik (1936-1972) was a leading voice in twentieth-century Latin American poetry. Born in the port city of Avellaneda, in the province of Buenos Aires, to Russian- Jewish immigrants, Pizarnik studied literature and painting at the University of Buenos Aires and spent most of her life in Argentina. From 1960-1964 she lived in Paris, where she was influenced by the work of the Surrealists (many of whom she translated into Spanish) and participated in a vibrant community of writers including Simone de Beauvoir and fellow expatriates Julio Cortázar and Octavio Paz. Known primarily for her poetry, Pizarnik also wrote works of criticism and journalism, experimental fiction, plays, and a literary diary. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1968 and a Fulbright Scholarship in 1971. Her complete works in Spanish have been published by Editorial Lumen. A book of her critical writings, A TRADITION OF RUPTURE (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2019), was translated into English by Cole Heinowitz. Five books of her poetry have been translated into English: THE LAST INNOCENCE / THE LOST ADVENTURES (Ugly Duckling Presse 2019), THE MOST FOREIGN COUNTRY (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2017), DIANA'S TREE (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2014), A Musical Hell and Extracting the Stone of Madness: Poems 1962-1972 (New Directions, 2016) and The Galloping Hour: French Poems (New Directions, 2018). She died in Buenos Aires, of an apparent drug overdose, at the age of 36.