Daniel Borzutzky

National Book Award Winner

Readings & Lecture Topics

  • Are We Latino: The Hazards of Representation
  • Translation and Distance
  • Poetry and the Neoliberal Policy Lab
  • The Performance of Becoming Human
  • Borderization
  • An Evening with Daniel Borzurzky

Daniel Borzutzky grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, of Chilean heritage. He is the winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Poetry for his collection The Performance of Becoming Human. A writer and translator, his other books of poetry are In the Murmurs of the Rotten Carcass Economy (2015), The Book of Interfering Bodies (2011), The Ecstasy of Capitulation (2007), and the chapbook Failure in the Imagination (2007). He has published one collection of fiction, Arbitrary Tales. Borzutzky’s books of translation include Song for his Disappeared Love by Raul Zurita and Port Trakl by Jaime Luis Huenun, among others.

As the first-generation son of Chilean immigrants growing up in Pennsylvania, Borzutzky’s The Performance of Becoming Human confronts head-on a lot of difficult questions currently facing our society. The book draws hemispheric connections between the US and Latin America, specifically touching upon border and immigration politics, economic disparity, political violence, and the disturbing rhetoric of capitalism and bureaucracies. To become human is to navigate these borders, including those of institutions, the realities of over- and under-development, and the economies of privatization, in which humans endure state-sanctioned and systemic abuses. Poet Urayoán Noel writes: “To read this book that is a country deposited not in your heart but in your mouth” is to confront becoming human as speech act, as language game, and to know the freedom and the terror of doing so. The painbeauty of Borzutzky’s virtuoso, multi-register flow (abject punchlines included) is also a counter-flow to the death drive of capital, sentences for a radical sentience.”

Borzutzky’s writing has been translated into Spanish, French, Bulgarian, and Turkish and has been anthologized in numerous publications. His honors include grants from the PEN American Center and the National Endowment for the Arts.

He lives in Chicago and teaches at Wright College of the City Colleges of Chicago.


Winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Poetry for his collection The Performance of Becoming Human, Daniel Borzutzky is a Chilean-American writer and translator living in Chicago. His other poetry books are In the Murmurs of the Rotten Carcass Economy, The Book of Interfering Bodies, The Ecstasy of Capitulation, and the chapbook Failure in the Imagination. He has published one collection of fiction, Arbitrary Tales. His books of translation include Song for his Disappeared Love by Raul Zurita and Port Trakl by Jaime Luis Huenun.


THE PERFORMANCE OF BECOMING HUMAN (Poetry, 2016)
Winner of the 2016 National Book Award, Borzutzky’s The Performance of Becoming Human draws hemispheric connections between the US and Latin America, specifically touching upon issues relating to border and immigration policies, economic disparity, political violence, and the disturbing rhetoric of capitalism and bureaucracies. To become human is to navigate these borders, including those of institutions, the realities of over- and under-development, and the economies of privatization, in which humans endure state-sanctioned and systemic abuses. Borzutzky, whose writing Eileen Myles has described as “violent, perverse, and tender” in its portrayal of “American and global horror,” adds another chapter to a growing and important compilation of work that asks what it means to a be both a unitedstatesian and a globalized subject whose body is “shared between the earth, the state, and the bank.”


IN THE MURMURS OF THE ROTTEN CARCASS ECONOMY (Poetry, 2015)
Daniel Borzutzky, whose work Eileen Myles calls “violent, perverse, tender,” offers a bracing new book that confronts violent action, from state sponsored torture and the bombing of civilians and other “non-essential personnel” to the collapse of the global economy, the barbarism of corporate greed, data fascism, and the deaths of immigrants attempting to cross borders. His book confronts the various horrors of our contemporary landscape through a poetry that literalizes violence, that seeks to find emotional connection and personal meaning in a world that is always exploding.

THE BOOK OF INTERFERING BODIES (Poetry, 2011)
Beginning with an epigraph from the 9/11 Commission Report, The Book of Interfering Bodies re-imagines the poet as bureaucrat, barbaric writer, and terrorist. In this book, poems that invoke the role of the writer in society alternate with apocalyptic prose pieces that recall Borges’ “Library of Babel.” In the process, Borzutzky creates a 21st century response to our most enduing twentieth century writers, from Beckett to Lispector.