Biography Alfonsina Storni

Alfonsina Storni

photo of Alfonsina Storni
  • Time Period 1892 - 1938
  • Place Capriasca
  • Country Switzerland
Poems of Alfonsina Storni Poets of Switzerland

Poet Biography

Alfonsina Storni was born in Capriasca, Switzerland of Italian-Swiss parents. Paulina, Alfonsina's mother was a teacher who studied music and the soprano voice. Alfonso, her father had started a business in 1880, in which he produced soda, ice, and beer with his three older brothers in San Juan, Argentina. In 1885 her parents married and had one son and one daughter by 1888. The family held a prestigious place in society during much of this time, until her father became an alcoholic and the family doctor suggested a vacation. The four of them left for Switzerland immediately. In the village of Sala Capriasca, Alfonsina Storni was born in April of 1892. When she was four, the family moved to San Juan and then in 1901 they moved to Rosario, Argentina. Seven years later, they had their fourth child, Hildo, for whom Alfonsina developed a maternal affection. From this point forward, the family lived under reduced circumstances due to a bankruptcy of the family business. Her mother tried to run a private school with 50 children, but Alfonso decided a small cafe, which he would run, would be better. The cafe failed and their living conditions worsened. Her father died in 1906. At age eleven Storni contributed to the household and began writing. At the age of twelve she toured Argentina for a year. She was then sent to Normal School in Coronda and earned a diploma in teaching in 1910. Rosario was her first place to begin teaching. While living here she met and fell in love with a well-educated newspaper journalist who was also a provincial deputy. Despite the fact that they had a child together, Storni could not marry him because he was already married. With his reputation at stake she fled to Buenos Aires, where her son was born in 1912. She soon gained employment with an oil importing firm, where she gave orders and continued to write. Storni's first book was published in 1916, when she was poor, unmarried, without proper contacts, and considered unattractive by the standards of the time. Five hundred copies were published for 500 pesos. Her following collections, El dulce dano ("Sweet Pain," 1918), Irremediableminte ("Irremediably," 1919), and Languedez ("Languor," 1920) expresses her frustrations with stereotypes of women. In Tu Me Quieres Blanca, (You want me white) she articulates discontent with the Spanish-American man wanting women to be pure. Or in Hombre pequenito (Little Man), she talks about the imprisonment woman may feel from relationships. Storni spoke on the behalf of many women by suggesting that relationships between men and women be intellectual and more balanced. She urged the government to grant women the vote and wrote articles and essays on women's rights. "La Nacion of Buenos Aires" published several articles that she wrote under the pseudonym Tao-Lao. She became a part of a group of writers, poets, artists, and musicians of the time who together visited "La Pena," a restaurant where Alfonsina used to stand to recite her poetry. In 1920, she wins the First Municipal Prize of Poetry and the Second National Prize of Literature for Languidness. She took a rest from life's challenges around 1921 when the Teatro Infantile Municipal Labarden created a chair for her. In 1923 she became professor of "Lectura y declamacion" at the Escuela Normal de Lenguas Vivas. Shortly following she earned a chair at the Nacional de Musica y Declamacion. Her fifth collection Ocre ("Okra," 1925) and Poemas de Amor ("Love Poems," 1926) express the female resentment for the merely comfort-seeking man. Great women in history, like Las grandes mujeres, and intellectual women, as in Las Mujeres Mentale represent the conflict between the individual and the surrounding world. Compared to her earlier works these are more cynical and ironic poems that express her ever-growing biting attitude toward men. In the summer of 1935, she found out that she had breast cancer. She was operated on, but the cancer continued. She suffered depressions. Since then she

began calling out to the sea in her poems and talked about the embrace of the sea and the crystal house awaiting for her there in the bottom, in the Madre pore avenue. In 1938, she revealed to her son the fact that the cancer had reached her throat and that she refused to go through surgery again. On October 18, she took a train to Mar del Plata and stayed in a small hotel. She wrote Voy a Dormir (I Am Going to Sleep) on October 20. October 22, she sent the poem to the editorial office of "La Nacion". While the public read her poem she committed suicide by walking into the ocean and drowning.

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