Opening Lines: Where Great Books Begin…Poet in New York



Federico García Lorca

Poems of Solitude at Columbia University
Rage, love’s color,
love, the color of oblivion.
Luis Cernuda
After a Walk
Cut down by the sky.
Between shapes moving toward the serpent
and crystal-craving shapes,
I’ll let my hair grow.
With the amputed tree that doesn’t sing
and the child with the blank face of an egg.
With the little animals whose skulls are crack
and the water, dressed in rags, but with dry feet.
With all the bone-tired, deaf-and-dumb things
and a butterly drowned in the inkwell.
Bumping into my own face, different each day.
Cut down by the sky!
(Translated by Greg Simon and Steven F. White)
Reblogged from LATIN CULTURE TODAY 4/20/2013
The New York Public Library presents a special exhibition on Spain’s greatest modern poet and playwright Federico García Lorca in concert with the city-wide festival “LORCA IN NY,” now through July 21, 2013.   This is the largest American festival celebrating Lorca with more than two dozen events, focused on the brief, prolific period of 1929-1930, when the poet came to New York and wrote his most significant book  Poet in New York. Presented by Fundación Federico García Lorca with support from Acción Cultural Española, the festival highlight is Back Tomorrow: Federico García Lorca / Poet in New York at an exhibition of manuscripts, drawings, letters, and photos Lorca generated while in the city.  NYPL exhibition coincides with the release of Farrar, Straus and Giroux’s bilingual edition of Poet in New York.  The work tackles racial bigotry, consumption, life in the slums, and the adoration of technology.
He called New York—“this maddening, boisterous Babel”.  In 1936, the poet left the manuscript of Poet in New York on the desk of his publisher in Madrid with a note saying he would be “back tomorrow”. But he never returned because only weeks later he was killed by fascists in Granada.  His body was thrown into an unmarked mass grave. The book was published posthumously in 1940, but the manuscript mysteriously disappeared, lost to scholars for decades. The Fundación Federico García Lorca in Madrid and The New York Public Library exhibit it now for the first time, together with drawings, photographs, letters, and mementos—traces of a Poet in New York . . . and of New York in a poet. The exhibition was curated by Christopher Maurer, Boston University, and Andrés Soria Olmedo, Universidad de Granada
Lorca’s poetry and theater influenced a wide range of musicians, poets, filmmakers including Leonard CohenGiannina BraschiOctavio PazLuis BuñuelSalvador DalíTim BuckleyPablo Neruda, and W.S. Merwin.  The vast list of artistic works inspired or dedicated to Lorca include:
  • Allen Ginsberg’s poem “A Supermarket in California” makes mention to Lorca mysteriously acting out with a watermelon.
  • Spanish poet Luis Cernuda, who is also part of the Generation of ’27, wrote the elegy A un poeta muerto
  • Hungarian poet Miklós Radnóti also wrote a poem about García Lorca in 1937 entitled Federico García Lorca.
  • Puerto Rican poet Giannina Braschi published El imperio de los sueños (1988) [English: Empire of Dreams, 1994], a poetic homage to Poet in New York and a treatise on the Lorca entitled: Breve tratado del poeta artista.
  • Bob Kaufman and Gary Mex Glazner have both written tribute poems entitled Lorca.
  • Harold Norse has a poem, We Bumped Off Your Friend the Poet, inspired by a review of Ian Gibson’s Death of Lorca.
  • The Spanish poet Antonio Machado wrote the poem El Crimen Fue en Granada, in reference to García Lorca’s death.
  • The Irish poet Michael Hartnett published an English translation of García Lorca’s poetry. García Lorca is also a recurring character in much of Hartnett’s poetry, most notably in the poem A Farewell to English..
  • Deep image, a poetic form coined by Jerome Rothenberg and Robert Kelly, is inspired by García Lorca’s Deep Song.
  • In 1945, Greek poet Odysseas Elytis (Nobel Prize for Literature, 1979) translated and published part of García Lorca’s Romancero Gitano.
  • Pablo Neruda wrote Ode to Federico García Lorca (1935) and Eulogy For Federico García Lorca.
  • Robert Creeley wrote a poem called “After Lorca” (1952)
  • Jack Spicer wrote a book of poems called “After Lorca” (1957).
  • The Russian poet Yevgeni Yevtushenko wrote the poem “When they murdered Lorca” (“Когда убили Лорку”) in which he portrays Lorca as being akin to Don Quixote—an immortal symbol of one’s devotion to his ideals and perpetual struggle for them.
  • British poet John Siddique wrote “Desire for Sight (After Lorca)” included in Poems from a Northern Soul
  • Bengali poet Sunil Ganguly wrote a poem “Kobir Mirtyu-Lorca Smarane” (The death of a Poet- In the memory of Lorca)
  • The American composerGeorge Crumb utilizes much of García Lorca’s poetry in works such as his Ancient Voices of Children.
  • Composer Osvaldo Golijov and playwright David Henry Hwang wrote the one-act opera Ainadamar (“Fountain of Tears”) about the death of García Lorca, recalled years later by his friend the actress Margarita Xirgu, who could not save him. (2003)
  • Finnish modernist composer Einojuhani Rautavaara has composed Suite de Lorca (“Lorca-sarja”) for a mixed choir to the lyrics of García Lorca’s poems Canción de jineteEl gritoLa luna asoma and Malagueña (1972).
  • The Pogues dramatically retell the story of his murder in the song ‘Lorca’s Novena’ on their Hell’s Ditch album.
  • Reginald Smith Brindle composed the guitar piece Four Poems of Garcia Lorca (1975) and El Polifemo de Oro (for guitar, 1982) based on two Lorca poems Adivinanza de la Guitarra and Las Seis Cuerdas 
  • Composer Dmitri Shostakovich wrote the first two movements of his 14th Symphony based around García Lorca poems.
  • The French composer Maurice Ohana set to music García Lorca’s poem Lament for the death of a Bullfighter (Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejías), recorded by the conductor Ataúlfo Argentain the 1950s
  • Spanish rock band Marea made a rock version of the poem “Romance de la Guardia Civil española”, named “Ciudad de los Gitanos”.
  • In 1964 Sandor Szokolay adapted Lorca’s play Blood Wedding into an opera, Vérnász, first produced in Budapest.
  • Wolfgang Fortner also wrote an operatic adaptation of Blood Wedding using a German translation by Enrique Beck, Die Bluthochzeit (1957).
  • In 1968, Joan Baez sang translated renditions of García Lorca’s poems, “Gacela Of The Dark Death” and “Casida of the Lament” on her spoken-word poetry album, Baptism.
  • American experimental folk-jazz musician Tim Buckley released an album called Lorca which included a song of the same name.
  • In 1986, CBS Records released the tribute album Poetas En Nueva York (Poets In New York), including performances by Leonard CohenPaco de Lucía.
  • In 1986 Leonard Cohen‘s English translation of “Pequeño vals vienés” by Lorca reached #1 in the Spanish single charts (as “Take This Waltz”, music by Cohen). Cohen named his daughter Lorca Cohen for that reason.


Lorca in NY celebration will be offered April 5–July 21.

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