Ugly Duckling Presse

Diana's Tree
Diana's Tree

Alejandra Pizarnik

translated by Yvette Siegert

Poetry | $14 $12
Fall 2014
Buy"Árbol de Diana . . . is considered by many to be her best."

In 1962, Pizarnik published her fourth collection, Diana’s Tree, the book that would both change and establish her poetic voice, and it contained the slimmest verses the poet would ever write. It also carried a glowing introduction by Octavio Paz, who by that point served as a prominent Mexican diplomat in Paris and had become a leader of the city’s expatriate literary circles. Diana’s Tree, wrote Paz, was a feat of alchemical prowess, a work of precocious linguistic transparency that let off “a luminous heat that could burn, smelt or even vaporize its skeptics.”

Pizarnik would live for only ten more years after the publication of this book, but her work would undergo several radical stylistic transformations, from the luminous lyric that captivated Paz to the dense, anguished prose poems of Extracting the Stone of Madness, to the more dialogic, sometimes absurdist structures of her mature work. When Pizarnik committed suicide, at the age of thirty-six, critics had already compared her to Sylvia Plath, and likened the scope of her literary influence to that of Arthur Rimbaud or Paul Celan. Forty years after her death, Pizarnik retains a prominent place in both critical and popular assessments of twentieth-century Latin American poetry.

Excerpt ˇ



I miss forgetting
the hour of my birth.
I miss no longer playing
the role of recent arrival.


you have built your house
you have feathered your birds
you have beaten against the wind
with your own bones

you have finished on your own
what no one ever started

Close ˆ

About the Author

Alejandra Pizarnik

Alejandra Pizarnik (1936-1972) was a leading voice in twentieth-century Latin American poetry. Born in Avellaneda to Russian-Jewish immigrants, Pizarnik studied literature and painting at the University of Buenos Aires and spent most of her life in Argentina. In 1960, she moved to Paris, where 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. Known primarily for her poetry, Pizarnik also wrote experimental fiction, plays, a literary diary, and works of criticism. She died in Buenos Aires, of an apparent drug overdose, at the age of thirty-six.

About the Translator

Yvette Siegert
Yvette Siegert is a poet and translator based in New York. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in 6x6, Aufgabe, Chelsea, Guernica, Stonecutter, St. Petersburg Review, The New Yorker and elsewhere. Recent translation projects include work by Alejandra Pizarnik, Alaíde Foppa, Andrés Pachón Arbeláez, Efraín Huerta and Ana Gorría. For her translations of Alejandra Pizarnik, published by New Directions and Ugly Duckling Presse, she has received recognition from the PEN American Center, the New York State Council for the Arts, the Ubersetzerhaus Looren, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has edited for The New Yorker and currently teaches comparative literature and translation at Baruch College of the City University of New York.

Advance Praise

"When placed out in the sun, Diana’s tree reflects its light and harnesses its rays into a central focal point called a poem, which lets off a luminous heat that can burn, smelt or even vaporize its skeptics. We recommend this experiment to the literary critics of our language."—Octavio Paz
"Yvette Siegert’s translation of Alejandra Pizarnik’s Diana’s Tree is concise, luminous, deliberately crafted, and it would be foolish to speak of it in anything less than admiration."—The Adirondack Review