Online Exclusives
Share
| All Online Exclusives >

The Poem and Its Reader

El poema y su lector
by Alejandra Pizarnik
Translated from Spanish by
Cole Heinowitz
Issue 29 Online Exclusive

Si me preguntan para quién escribo me preguntan por el destinatario de mis poemas. La pregunta garantiza, tácitamente, la existencia del personaje.

De modo que somos tres: yo; el poema; el destinatario. Este triángulo en acusativo precisa un pequeño examen.

Cuando termino un poema, no lo he terminado. En verdad lo abandono, y el poema ya no es mío o, más exactamente, el poema existe apenas.

A partir de ese momento, el tríangulo ideal depende del destinatario o lector. Únicamente el lector puede terminar el poema inacabado, rescatar sus múltiples sentidos, agregarle otros nuevos. Terminar equivale, aquí, a dar vida nuevamente, a re-crear.

Cuando escribo, jamás evoco a un lector. Tampoco se me ocurre pensar en el destino de lo que estoy escribiendo. Nunca he buscado al lector, ni antes, ni durante, ni después del poema. Es por esto, creo, que he tenido encuentros imprevistos con verdaderos lectores inesperados, los que me dieron la alegría, la emoción, de saberme comprendida en profundidad. A lo que agrego una frase propicia de Gaston Bachelard:

El poeta debe crear su lector y de ninguna manera expresar ideas comunes.

If they ask me who do you write for, they’re asking about the poem’s addressee. The question tacitly assumes such a character exists.

That makes three of us: myself; the poem; the addressee. This accusative triangle demands a bit of examination.

When I finish a poem, I haven’t finished it. Honestly, I abandon it and the poem is no longer mine or, more accurately, it exists in spite of me.

After that moment, the ideal triangle depends on the addressee or reader. Only the reader can finish the incomplete poem, recover its multiple meanings, add new ones. To finish is the equivalent, here, of giving new meaning, of re-creating.

When I write, I never imagine a reader. Nor does it ever occur to me to consider the fate of what I’m writing. I have never searched for a reader, neither before, nor during, nor after, writing the poem. It’s because of this, I think, that I’ve had unforeseen encounters with truly unexpected readers, the ones that gave me the joy and excitement of knowing I was profoundly understood. To which I’ll add a propitious line by Gaston Bachelard:

The poet should create his reader and in no way express popular ideas.

 

 

____

 

Alejandra Pizarnik, “Prólogos a la antología consultada de la joeven poesía argentina” (“El poeta y su poema” y “El poema y su lector”), from Quince poetas, ed. César Magrini. Buenos Aires: Ediciones Centurión, 1968.

Alejandra Pizarnik (1936–72) is among the most important Latin American poets of the twentieth century. Born in Argentina to Russian-Jewish immigrants, Pizarnik studied literature and painting at the University of Buenos Aires, then moved to Paris, developing close ties with Julio Cortázar and Octavio Paz.
Translator
Cole Heinowitz is the translator of Mario Santiago Papasquiaro’s Advice from 1 Disciple of Marx to 1 Heidegger Fanatic (Wave Books, 2013) and Beauty Is Our Spiritual Guernica (Commune Editions, 2015), as well as A Tradition of Rupture: Selected Critical Writings of Alejandra Pizarnik (Ugly Duckling Presse, forthcoming). She is also a poet, scholar, and Associate Professor of Literature at Bard College.