Alejandra Pizarnik, Biography of the Last Cursed Writer

Writing was for Alejandra Pizarnik a way to transfigure pain, and poetry, a task to exorcise ghosts, repair wounds, conjure up yearnings…

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They said about Alejandra Pizarnik that she was born with darkness in her soul. His rebellion, his tragic air and his passion were nourished by his own darkness to weave a unique and unrepeatable poetry. He told us about cages, eyes, very heavy stones and Isabel Bathory, the bloody countess. Sailed like nobody, between the madness and the oneiric, to leave us an exceptional work.

It was that woman who always felt like a foreigner in this world. He spoke Spanish with a European accent. He ate at the complexes, his weight increases. His childhood was tinged with disappointments, fears, voids … (the sky has the color of a dead childhood, he once wrote). It is also said that he tried everything in life, journalism, philosophy, painting … but only poetry and amphetamines gave relief to his nervous thoughts.

Alejandra Pizarnik was also that Argentine poet who left her wake in Paris and who impregnated her mind and heart of the final stage of surrealism. He became friends with André Breton, Georges Bataille or Yves Bonnefoy and, above all, with someone who was key in his life and also in his career as a remarkable poet: Octavio Paz.

No one explored how she suffered and even madness; it was that unfolded woman who claimed to have dead twins in her interior: Alejandras past and Alejandras del presente, who never dared to be. He took his own life in 1972 with 36 years. However, it was an announced goal, because he spent all his life on tiptoe, in that abyss that he looked at on several occasions. Until in the end, he found liberation for his torments, for his obscurities.

To this day Alejandra Pizarnik is still known as the last cursed poet of America. To read it is to immerse ourselves equally in romanticism, surrealism, the universe of the Gothic and also in psychoanalysis. A unique universe that leaves no one indifferent.

“I do not know about birds / I do not know the history of fire. / But I think my loneliness should have wings.”

-TO. Pizarnik-

Alejandra Pizarnik, a life of genius and darkness

Being born in Avellaneda, a suburb of Buenos Aires, probably was not easy for Alejandra Pizarnik. His family was of Russian-Jewish origin, and they dragged permanently the pain of having left their country of origin, the marks of the Holocaust, the horror and the personal losses experienced during the war.

That shadow must have created an early imprint on her. An inherited wound that was further enlarged by a physicist who did not accept, the rejection of a mother who valued her sister more, and a health in which asthma and stuttering removed much of her childhood. All this made that, from an early age, it was perceived differently, within a character in which, it was not recognized.

Literature and philosophy were that safe space in which to shelter as a child. That literary scene awoke, very soon, his need for writing, and also opened the door to a particular rebellion that would always characterize him. Already in adolescence, she was known for her dress, her short hair, her particular style.

His mind and his art began to give testimony of his poetic charisma before arriving at the university. Also, also about this time, the need to take refuge in another shelter that had nothing to do with books or writing grew. Her concern about gaining weight and rejection of her own body, led her to the consumption of barbiturates and amphetamines.

A life of unsuccessful searches

In 1954 Alejandra Pizarnik began her studies in philosophy and letters at the University of Buenos Aires. It does not end them. Later he tries with journalism. He does not like it either. Afterwards, he began an artistic training with the surrealist painter Batlle Planas. Her country is too small for her, and her eagerness to find a meaning and a channel for self-realization led her to spend a few years in Paris.

Thus, between 1960 and 1964 he lives a rewarding stage in which he begins to work making translations and literary criticism for various magazines. It is at this time when he establishes friendship with two very relevant figures in his life: Julio Cortázar and the Mexican poet Octavio Paz. The latter is the one who writes the prologue of his book of poems Tree of Diana (1962).

In 1965 and already in Argentina, he continues with his literary work. His work is appreciated by the cultural community. His depressive crises, discouragement and the search for a something that gives meaning to his existence never comes.

His friends said later that, after returning from Paris, he began to create a progressive crust of isolation around him. After the death of his father came the suicide attempts. Her dependence on sleeping pills became more intense, almost desperate, so that in 1972 she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital due to an intense depression.

On September 25, taking advantage of a hospital permit, he ends up taking 50 pills of sesalar. There is no turning back, Alejandra Pizarnik finally found her release. I was 36 years old.

“Among other things, I write so that what I fear does not happen; so that what hurts me is not; to drive away the Bad. It has been said that the poet is the great therapist. In this sense, the poetic task would involve exorcise, conjure and, in addition, repair. To write a poem is to repair the fundamental wound, the tear. Because we are all injured.”

-TO. Pizarnik-

The work of Alejandra Pizarnik

Much of Alejandra Pizarnik’s work revolves around two spheres: her childhood in Buenos Aires and her fascination with death. Also, something that we must take into account is that, today, we can admire much of his work thanks to Julio Cortázar and, above all, to the first woman of this, Aurora Bernárdez.

The family of Alejandra, always puritanical and even disgusted by the tastes and literary style of her daughter, was about to destroy her personal notebooks and writings. Also, the cultural repression of Argentina put in risk to conserve part of its work. So his diaries, for example, were taken to Paris where the Cortázars guarded them until Columbia University stayed with them.

His lyrical work is comprised of seven poems: The Most Foreign Land (1955), The Last Innocence (1956), The Lost Adventures (1958), Diana’s Tree (1962), The Works and the Nights (1965), Extraction of the Stone of Madness (1968) and The Musical Hell (1971).

Later several publications of his last poems were made, theatrical works as Los possessidos entre lilas and the novel La bucanera de Pernambuco or Hilda la polígrafa. It is worth noting also one of his most famous and striking stories: The Bloody Countess.

The style

Alejandra Pizarnik wrote in a frantic way since she was 15 years old. He did it devoutly, because that was his only way of salvation in a world he never felt part of. His poetry is full of symbols, silences, madness, the shadow of death, delusions … Poetry, according to herself, was that place where the impossible becomes possible.

It was also the voice of feminism; his words had a subversive beauty, in which only truths could fit, he criticized labels, conventions and the obligation to be part of a social mold. It was that woman unable to adjust to any kind of expectations.

Hence the boredom, the drowsiness and that sticky melancholy that collapsed his heart to impregnate his poems. Alejandra Pizarnik was the last cursed poetess, that great writer who continues to overwhelm us with her verses, with her distant but always resounding voice.

“I’m just not of this world … I live the moon with frenzy. I’m not afraid to die; I am afraid of this alien, aggressive land … I can not think of concrete things; I am not interested. I do not know how to speak like everyone else. My words are strange and come from afar, where it is not, from encounters with anyone … What will I do when I immerse myself in my fantastic dreams and can not ascend? Because it will ever have to happen. I will leave and I will not know how to return.”