Lorca’s “Poet in New York”: an exhibition, a festival, an all-out bonanza
by Sal Robinson
For all those who love Lorcaâ€™s paen to the city, Poet In New York, the New York Public Library will soon be hosting an exhibition, â€śBack Tomorrow: Federico GarcĂa Lorca / Poet in New Yorkâ€ť (open from April 5-July 21) focused on the bookâ€™s genesis and Lorcaâ€™s time in the city. The exhibit will bring together early drafts of the poetic sequences that make up most of the book, as well as the poet’s letters to his family and drawings.Â Other objects on display will be Lorca’s passport, library card, and guitar, and books and manuscripts from Walt Whitman, T.S. Eliot, and Hart Crane. This second group of materials should be particularly interesting to have side by side with the emerging Poet In New York because, when Lorca was attending Columbia University in the summer of 1929, a number of friends of his were at work on Spanish translations of â€śSong of Myselfâ€ť and â€śThe Waste Land,â€ť and Lorcaâ€™s experience of those translations strongly influenced the development of his own poetry.
The exhibition will be accompanied by more than two dozen readings, lectures, panels, movie screenings, theatrical performances, concerts, festivals, and all manner of interpretations and celebrations. In other words, wherever you go in the city between the beginning of April and the end of July, you’re likely to bump into something Lorca and Poeta en Nueva York-ish. Perhaps especially interesting are the lecture â€śFederico GarcĂa Lorca Occupies Wall Street: Poet In New York and Global Crisisâ€ť (July 10, NYPL), to be given by Melcion Mateu, in which Mateu will speak about Poet in New York as â€śa book that was written in, and perhaps meant to be read in an era of global turmoil.â€ť And, for those who like to tramp the streets in person, and not just virtually, the Cervantes Institute will be offering a free walking tour of Lorcaâ€™s New York on June 5th, his 115th birthday, that will encompass Columbia, the Hispanic Society of America, Smallâ€™s Paradise (one of Harlemâ€™s most famous clubs at the time, known for its dancing waiters and bootleg hooch) and other sites that inspired the poet. This tour is an annual affair, and photos of last yearâ€™s outing can be seen here. For more information about the NYPL exhibition and other events, go to http://lorcanyc.com/.
Sal Robinson is an editor at Melville House, and co-founder of the Bridge Series, a reading series focused on translation.