Nombrar y Nombrarme

I came across Alejandra Pizarnik from a diary entry last October. This sentence stood out to me: “Ahora se que cada poema debe ser causada por un absoluto escandalo en la sangre” “Now I know that every poem must be caused by an absolute scandal in the blood”. I knew what she meant, how frustrating it feels when you’re pushing yourself to make poetry like you’re a factory spitting out products. It took awhile to really let it sink in because we all have our moments when the things are stirred and then the aftermath is placed within the confines of whatever medium is desired by the soul in that moment.

I became distracted by other things until I came across Pizarnik again by stumbling on this screenshot:


Alejandra Pizarnik in a letter to Silvina Ocampo “Alejandra” (2013), directed by Ernesto Ardito and Virna Molina

I was intrigued and went on a mission to find the movie. It’s from the biographical movie titled Alejandra (2013). I became so enthralled with her story, felt a little validated when learning she too would keep a journal with quotations, and overall felt a sadness in knowing how painful she felt life was and saw no point in continuing trying her hardest to let it all go. Throughout the film, Vanessa Molina brings to life Pizarnik’s poetry, adopting the tonality of her voice. Then towards the end the only audio recording of Alejandra’s actual voice is heard. I was moved to tears, and since then every time I read a poem, my inner voice now has adapted her tonality, her grave emphasis to each word, asking me to dig a little deeper.

As I was watching this film I was eating a mandarin, and now every time I eat a mandarin or smell citrus I will always remember Alejandra. I love when scents or food get associated with something I end up loving. It makes me feel so connected to everything in a very beautiful, romantic way.

If you’re curious and want to be inspired also, here’s the movie in its entirety with English subtitles, and let me know what Alejandra Pizarnik has stirred within you.

(trigger warning for mentions of suicide and suicide)

Full diary entry:

Domingo 24 de Noviembre de 1957

Desalentada por mi poesia. Abortos nada mas. Ahora se que cada poema debe ser causada por un absoluto escandalo en la sangre. No se puede escribir con la imaginacion sola o con el intelecto solo; es menestar que el sexo y la infancia y el corazon y los grandes miedos y las ideas y la sed y de nuevo el miedo trabajen al unisono mientras yo me inclino hacia la hoja, mientras yo me despeño en el papel e intento nombrar y nombrarme.

Alejandra Pizarnik, Diarios.

My translation:

Sunday November 24, 1957

Discouraged by my poetry. Abortions only. Now I know every poem is caused by an absolute scandal in the blood. You can’t write with only the imagination or only with intellect; its necessary that the sex and the childhood, and the heart and the great fears and the ideas and the thirst and again the fear work in unison while I bow towards the sheet, while I collapse in the paper and attempt to name and to name myself.

Alejandra Pizarnik, Diarios.

Rumi’s Little Book of Life

I have made this little book into an oracle of sorts. If I feel lost or a sadness has come to visit me a while and I no longer have the patience to host this visitor, I take the little book, close my eyes and flip to a page, and there will be my antidote, the elixir to help me on my way.

Rumi will always move me, even if some days I feel like a statue. Reading even a couple of lines softens me and reminds me of my humanity. He always feel like a hand on my shoulder letting me know to always look for the Divine. And the Divine is the confirmation that our soul is light and will lead us in the right direction, to love.

Love is an attribute of God wanting nothing
repentance is an attribute of man, it is a worm
to Love’s dragon, absurd in God’s presence.
Love for anything but Him is unreal
for that which is not Him is a gilded object
shining outside yet empty inside,
light and golden on the outside yet dark within.
The moment divine light disappears
darkness is revealed and unreal love
is extinguished like a candle,
the body is discarded and beauty returns to its source.
The moonlight goes back to the moon
and its reflection disappears from the black wall.
Divine love is the sun of perfection
the Divine Word is its Light
and the creatures are its shadow.

From, “Part Two: Garden of the Heart”.
Rumi’s Little Book of Life. Translated By: Maryam Mafi and Azima Melita Kolin.

Poem XX

Adrienne Rich’s Twenty-One Love Poems are something to behold. Poem XX is the one that moved me, the one that shed a light on something within me I needed to understand, about what the soul is, what the soul is made of.

“That conversation we were always on the edge of having, runs on in my head”, what is this conversation? The internal monologue we have, that inner voice that gathers our intuition and hands it to us. I then read it over and over sharpening my understanding of the soul. Is it a mirror, reflecting the vulnerabilities of ourselves we hide? Not necessarily. We are so prone to continue this life ignoring ourselves for the sake of having a life people think is worth living. There comes a time though, a small moment, where we see ourselves, and the neglect that has caused our grief, “…drowning in secrets, fear wound round her throat”. This grief we try to set aside, throw whatever we can at it, but it’s still determined to creep up when we believe to have defeated it. Our soul is not a mirror, but it will show us what we have been neglecting, how we have been hurting. And then, the sudden realization that we can indeed have a hand at shaping our soul, to have a hand at expanding and growing by nourishing it, to realize it is ours, it is mine, “and soon I shall know I was talking to my own soul”.

This was my interpretation of it and sometimes I wonder if I’m right or wrong. But then again, even though the writer had a certain intention with it, how it is received is something entirely different. I like to think of poetry and other art forms like a road sign, something that highlights what you’ve been mulling over and over again in the palm of your hands, and at times medicine, an elixir that brings the understanding you need in order to continue on.

And now I ask, what has moved you on this Monday, or lately?

Poem XX from Twenty-One Love Poems in, The Dream of a Common Language by: Adrienne Rich