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Alejandra Pizarnik (1936-1972) was a leading voice in twentieth-century Latin American poetry. Born in Argentina to Russian-Jewish immigrants, Pizarnik studied at the University of Buenos Aires and the Sorbonne. In Paris, she was influenced by the work of the Surrealists and participated in a vibrant expatriate community of writers that included Julio Cortázar and Octavio Paz. She died in Buenos Aires, of an apparent drug overdose, at the age of thirty-six.

Yvette Siegert is a poet and literary translator. She has edited for the United Nations and The New Yorker, and has taught at Columbia University and the 92nd Street Y. A Musical Hell, her translations of Alejandra Pizarnik’s final poetry collection (from which “Cornerstone” is drawn), will be published by New Directions in June.

Photo via Flickr, courtesy Meg Wills

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