Search more than 3,000 biographies of contemporary and classic poets.

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 Written after a Massacre in the Year 2018, forthcoming from Coffee House Press; 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

Written After a Massacre in the Year 2018

There is no country to claim you when you die inside the word 

There is no language to claim you when die inside the cage  

The exiled cage breathes death at us 

The cage of exile heaves private air at us


Don’t speak now 

Just look 

Breathe into the mouth of the wound 

Dream into the foreclosure of your death 

Look into the vulture of your wound 

Look into the spider of your wound 

Look closely into the algorithm that determines the depth of your wound 

Whisper into the cage of exile 

You have nothing to lose but this breath 


Into the breath in your breath 

Look     into the absent body in your breath 

Look     into the absent I in your body 

Look     into the absent you in your body 

No dust on your body no wound on your body no breath on your body no word on your body no fat on your body no arm on your body no tongue no shadow no rupture no breath no thought no cage no exile no word no code no silence 


At the broken shadow in your broken shadow 


At the flooded street in your flooded street 

Look      into the economy of your absence and whisper into the code you cannot speak 

Look      into the silence of the code

Do not speak directly of the breath 

Do not speak directly of the suicide

Do not speak directly of the kids who tossed themselves into the river

Do not speak directly of the state that paid the kids to toss themselves into the river 

Breathe the privatized wind     breathe through the foreclosure of your mouth  

Breathe the broken shadow into the broken shadow 

Don’t take the money into the cage or they will kill you before it is time to kill you 

Pray gently into the privatization of your absence 

Die gently into the privatization of your absence

Pray gently into the accumulation of your absence

Die gently into the cage where the babies cry in your absence

Pray gently into the puffed-up corpses who grow and grow in your absence

The only breath in this cage is death