Writer Rights a Wrong

Daniel Borzutzky wrote "Every book has sentences in it the writer hates, that the writer cannot get rid of, that the writter cannot live without. Any writer who cuts out every sentence that he hates is a writer not worth reading." The American-born writer of Chilean descent should know. He has been brilliantly translating the works of Chilean and South and Central American writers for years. His own writing, including his poetry, takes its readers through an intense, dark, humorous and rhythmically charged maze of daydreams, nightmares, and atrocities, both everyday and global, from a bad night at the local CVS to the corpse-strewn landscapes of General Augusto Pinochet's Chile.

Borzutzky teaches Creative Writing and Latin American Literature at Wright College to students who have lived the reality of the Latin American experience but may just be coming into an awareness of the cultural heritage that they are allowed to lay claim to.

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Watch Daniel Borzutzky read his poem, "Dream Song #16."



Watch Borzutzky perform a reading of his poem, "Let Light Shine Out of Darkness."



Watch Borzutzky read his poem, "The Book of Non-Writing."



Watch Borzutzky recite an excerpt from his poem, "In the Murmurs of the Rotten Carcass Economy."


Read excerpts from his poetry.

"In the Murmurs of the Rotten Carcass Economy"

by Daniel Borzutzky

Every book has sentences in it the writer hates, that the writer cannot get rid of, that the writer cannot live without. Any writer who cuts out every sentence that he hates is a writer not worth reading.

But what’s even worse than this are the sentences that the writer loves, the sentences the writer needs, the sentences that created the book but which the writer absolutely cannot include.

“Doubt,” writes Duras, “equals writing.”

To which I would add that I have little interest in writing that doesn’t make a mess: of itself, of the world, of its own reason for being.

One can write towards a reduction. One can begin with a mess of words, and then hope, in the end, for a beautiful and satisfying reduction of that mess. One can consciously work towards a reduction in the ability of the writing body to be absorbed by the words it murmurs to everyone and no one in particular.


"Good Morning, Ruin"

by Daniel Borzutzky

The children are in a field with balls and trees and flowers. Or they are in a room painted pastel colors and scattered with bright rugs and miniature tables.  In the dream song the corpses fall from the mouths of the children. A young boy touches a dead hand and says: this sea horse, this crustacean, this dangling limb is the dangling limb of a body I once knew, when I lived in some other hole, in some other country where the corpses were ghosts who couldn’t stop making love to each other.

This dream song has a good rhythm and when I hear it I feel like suffocating my neighbor, like putting a pillow over his old lubricated head and watching him transition from one world into another.


This is just like the time you carved my fist into the globe. Right through the old Soviet Union. You trapped my knuckles in there and pulled the globe up and down and up and down until finally the sharp edges of the severed globe pierced into my skin and my hand bled over oceans and continents.

There is no other world inside of this world, you sing.

Across the world they jam bodies into globes, you sing.

We hear them when we are hungry.

We hear them when we put our ears to the hearts of our lovers. Our hearts that are filled with evidence of just how frozen we are, in our hearts.

Our hearts that beat life into our ruined, molding bodies, pumping blood and breath into the whispering absence of our remains.

Upcoming Events:

Wednesday, Nov. 19 at 7:30 to 9:00 pm

La Bruquena Restaurant
2726 West Division St., upstairs
Chicago, IL 60622

The Guild Literary Complex and the Poetry and Poetics Colloquium are co-sponsoring a reading with poets Daniel Borzutzky and Justin Petropoulos. The event will begin with an open mic and include readings and discussion led by the duo. The program is free and open to the public.

Thursday, Nov. 20 at 12:30 pm

Hagstrum Room
University Hall 201
1897 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208

The Poetry and Poetics Colloquium will host a reading and workshop with Daniel Borzutzky and Justin Petropoulos. Contact Todd Nordgren ([email protected]) for copies of the readings for this workshop.

*Illinois Artists at Work is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

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