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Daniel Borzutzky

In 1974 Daniel Borzutzky was born in­­ Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Chilean parents. He received a BA from the University of Pittsburgh in 1997 and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2000.

He is the author of Lake Michigan (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018), a finalist for the 2019 Griffin International Poetry Prize; The Performance of Becoming Human (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2016), which won the 2016 National Book Award in poetry; In the Murmurs of the Rotten Carcass Economy (Nightboat, 2015); Memories of my Overdevelopment (Kenning Editions, 2015); The Book of Interfering Bodies (Nightboat, 2011); and The Ecstasy of Capitulation (BlazeVOX Books, 2006).

Borzutzky is also known for his work as a translator, and he received the 2017 ALTA National Translation Award for his translation of Galo Ghigliotto’s Valdivia (Co-im-press, 2016) and a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant for his translation of The Country of Planks (Action Books, 2015) by the Chilean poet Raúl Zurita. He is also the author of a collection of short stories, Arbitrary Tales (Ravenna Press, 2007).

Borzutzky’s work is known for its portrayal of various kinds of political violence. The poet Carmen Giménez Smith has said, “Daniel Borzutzky has been the fabulist we most need because he’s unafraid to detail the truth of our oligarchy, without pedantry. In his figurative world our bodies are forced through privatized meat grinders, but funnily in the way that all dark horror stories trigger our gallows humor.”

In an interview with Stephen de Jesús Frías, Borzutzky says, “I write about economic violence, police violence and torture, violence towards immigrants, corporate barbarism, racism, the destruction of unions and the neglect of the poor, among other things.”

Borzutzky has received fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. He teaches in the English and Latin American and Latino Studies Departments at the University of Illinois at Chicago.


Lake Michigan (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018)
The Performance of Becoming Human (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2016)
In the Murmurs of the Rotten Carcass Economy (Nightboat, 2015)
The Book of Interfering Bodies(Nightboat, 2011)
The Ecstasy of Capitulation (BlazeVOX Books, 2006)

Arbitrary Tales (Ravenna Press, 2007)

By This Poet


Managed Diversity

Through predictive analytics I understood the inevitability of the caged-up babies
They keep coffins at the border for when the refugees get too far from home
How many thousands of bodies can we fit in a tent or a swimming pool
We can live without the unknown in front of us if we keep enough babies in cages
The cardboard box sleeps one kid comfortably
Two is snug   efficient   recommended in times of austerity

Relational values change in relation to market sentiments

This is the danger of having too much access to illegal bodies
Let’s pretend the illegal bodies are bankers
Let’s stick all the bankers in cages
Let’s shove shit in their mouths
Let’s pretend they are eating cryptocurrency
Let’s create a crisis let’s induce inflation
Let’s undervalue the cost of their bodies

I dream of an economy where one arrested immigrant is replaced with one dead banker
I am not responsible for my dreams rather I am responsible for what I do with my dreams
When the sleep medication wears off I am alone with the machines that watch me	
The global economy brightens my room with the surveillance of my rotten assets