Born of a wealthy family in Buenos Aires in 1891, Oliverio Girondo spent his early years in Argentina and Europe, traveling to the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900, when he was only nine, and where he later claimed to have seen Oscar Wilde stalking the streets with sunflower in hand. After spending some time at the Lycée Louis le Grand in Paris and Epsom School in England, he made an agreement with his family to attend law school in Buenos Aires if they would send him each year to Europe for the holidays. For the next several years, Girondo explored the continent, even traveling to find the source of the Nile.
Meanwhile, back at home he had begun writing avant-garde plays, which caused a stir in the theater world of Argentina. In 1922 he published, in France, his first volume and verse, 20 Poems to Be Read in a Trolley Car, which shows the influence of Guillaume Apollinaire and the Parisian scene. Only in 1925, with the second printing of this book, did Girondo receive attention in Argentina. By this time, the ultraists, lead by Jorge Luis Borges, had become a major force the scene, and Girondo continued his own humorous exploration of the aesthetic in his second volume, Decals. In the same period he became involved with the avant-garde journal Martin Fierro, which brought together younger poets such as Girondo and Borges with more established figures such as Ricardo Güiraldes and Macedonion Fernández.
After a five year period of traveling again, Girondo returned to Buenos Aires, publishing two of his major works, Scarecrow (1932) and Intermoonlude (1937). A new book, Our Countryside, appeared in 1946, the same year he married the poet Nora Lange. In this new work he moved away from the ultraist ideas, playing with elaborate metaphoric language. As Borges moved toward his more fantasist works, and a new generation of poets arose, Girondo was increasingly described as a humorous or even frivolous poet, but his 1956 work, Moremarrow stood as a darker summation of his career, a work that bears comparison with the great Chilean writer Vicente Huidobro's Altazor. Many readers, however, feel that Girondo went further in his linguistic explorations. During that same period Girondo revived the journal Contemporánea.
In 1964 Girondo was hit by a car, and for the several years suffered terrible pain before dying of those injuries in 1967. His last works were gathered by the surrealist poet Enrique Molina.
BOOKS OF POETRY:
Viente poemas para ser leídos en el travía (Argenteuil, France: C. H. Barthélemy, 1922); Calcomanías (Madrid: Editorial Calpe, 1925); Espantapájaros (Al alcance de todos) (Buenos Aires: Editorial Proa, 1932); Interlunio (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sur, 1937); Persuasión de los días (Buenos Aires: Editorial Losada, 1942); Campo nuestro (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1946); En la masmédula (Buenos Aires: Losada, 1954, 1956, 1963); Obras completas (Buenos Aires: Losada, 1968); Obra completa (Madrid: Galaxia Gutenberg, 1999).
ENGLISH LANGUAGE TRANSLATIONS:
Scarecrow and Other Anomalies , trans. by Gilbert Alter-Gilbert (Riverside, California: Xenos Books, 2002).