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Wednesday’s Wise Woman … Alfonsina Storni

December 19, 2012


Alfonsina Storni 

Alfonsina Storni (1892-1938) was born in Sala Capriasca, Switzerland; as a child she immigrated with her family to Argentina in 1896.  When it became necessary for her to provide for her family she joined a travelling theatre and later became a schoolteacher in the rural areas of Argentina. Finding herself expecting a child and unmarried she moved to Buenos Aires where her son was born.  Alfonsina continued to teach and work with young people in a theatre group.  She formed friendships with the writers Horacio Quiroga and Juana de Ibarbourou.  Her first book La inquietud del rosal (1916; “The Restless Rose Garden”) brought her recognition in literary circles but it was her next book El dulce daño (1918; “The Sweet Injury”) that won her popular acclaim.   Although Alfonsina remained critical of men; referring to them as the enemy  she fulfilled her heterosexual desires.  She was able to to express the tension and passion of these irresolute feelings in her poetry. For a while in the 1920s Alfonsina concentrated more on journalistic articles and plays that were not so well received.
In the 1930s influenced by Garcia Lorca and other poets of the time Alfonsina returned to writing poetry.  Sadly, now suffering from breast cancer and mourning the loss of her dear friend Quiroga who had recently committed suicide; her works reflected this; sophisticated and stylised quite unlike her simple and passionate earlier works.  Alfonsina sent her last  poem, Voy a dormir (“I’m going to sleep”) to La Nacion newspaper in October 1938. Soon after her body was found washed up on the beach; legend suggests that she walked slowly into the sea at La Perla beach in Mar del Plata until she drowned.
Her death inspired Ariel Ramirez and Felix Luna to compose the song Alfonsina y el Mar (Alfonsina and the sea) and it has been performed notably by Mercedes Sosa and Nana Mouskouri.

Also, fifty years after her death, she inspired the Latin American artist Aquino to incorporate her image into many of his paintings this aspect I know little of and would like to learn more about.  

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