I’m in love. He’s been dead for decades and would have never returned my affection anyway, since his taste tended towards his own gender, but I love him. It’s an intellectual love, but a passionate one nonetheless.
His name is Federico García Lorca.
I read my first Lorca poem in Spanish 111 my freshman year of college. We had an excerpt from “Sleepwalking Ballad” in our textbook.
Green, I want you green.
Under the gypsy moon,
all things are watching her
and she cannot see them.
And that was how my love affair began. I not only devoured the massive completed collected poems, I read his plays, even the obscure The Butterfly’s Evil Spell (which I, incidentally, love, even if critics and audiences hated it when it first debuted). I read several biographies, his letters, his essays and lectures on his theory of duende.
I flew to Chicago to see Little Ashes opening weekend, by myself (and not just to see Robert Pattinson kiss the wonderful Spanish actor, Javier Beltrán, who played Federico in the movie). When my friend who has a fantastic three syllable name that begins with an ‘f’ was expecting a baby boy and tossing around names, I begged her to name him Federico, in honor of my favorite poet (she didn’t).
Lorca was born in Andalusia just before the dawn of the twentieth century and came of age in Madrid, where he studied alongside men who would become some of the most influential Spanish artists of their time, such as Salvador Dali and Manuel de Falla. Though he would write about poverty in America and travel extensively in Latin America, he, and most of his work, embodied Spain, the South, the Mediterranean coast, the gypsies, and the history of his people and their connection to the land. In the end he died at the hands of his beloved country during the Spanish Civil War, a martyr.
Sex and death are ever present themes in Lorca’s work, expressed with startling and private metaphors. Reading a Lorca poem is a gladly self-inflicted piercing ache. The spine of my Collected Poems is worn because I often pause when passing my bookshelf to pull it off and read a few stanzas. I love many poets, particularly Spanish ones, but none have ever penetrated my soul quite like Lorca.
My current WIP takes its title from a line from a Lorca poem. Cold and Sharp is about a girl named Marigold, and though she is separated by oceans and decades from Lorca’s Spanish countryside, she’s in search of a love that she never had but was once hers, just like the speaker in Lorca’s Garden of Lunar Grapefruits. Even the moon and the grapefruit get their own cameo.
In Celebration of National Poetry Month, I’m interested in exploring new poets I might not be familiar with. Who’s you’re favorite poet, and why are you drawn to him/her? Has a poem ever inspired one of your works?