August 20, 2006

Lorca in his Cuban period

A CubaNews translation by Ana Portela.
Edited by Walter Lippmann

From March 7 to June 12, 1930, the Spanish playwright and poet, Federico Garcia Lorca lived in Cuba. He had arrived in Havana invited by the scholar Fernando Ortiz, then president of the Hispanic-American Institute of Culture.

Ortiz was in New York in March with his project to study the Blacks of Harlem. There the Spanish intellectuals Federico de Onís and Fernando de los Ríos (university professors at Columbia University) introduced him to the poet.

Ortiz invited him to give lectures the Island and Garcia Lorca left New York, by train, to Tampa and on March 6 boarded the ferry, Cuba that docked in Havana the following day. He was received by his friends, José María Chacón y Calvo, Rafael Suárez Solís, Félix Lizaso and Santiago Guardiola who was the administrator of the Hispanic-American Institute of Culture.

During his time in Cuba, Lorca appeared in the Teatro Principal de la Comedia, offering five conferences: one in Sagua la Grande, another in Caibarien, two in Cienfuegos and one in Santiago de Cuba.

On Sunday, March 9, the author of El publico was presented to the members of the institute headed by Ortiz. There he spoke of “The mechanics of poesy”, a subject he would also offer in Sagua la Grande and Cienfuegos. In Havana where he was welcomed by important personalities, he was offer discourse later on the poetry of Gongorism of the XVII century, of Pedro Soto de Rojas, Spanish lullabies, the poetic image of Luis de Gongora and the cante jondo (flamenco). His presence sparked so much interest that members of the culture institute requested Juan Marinello (substitute of Ortiz in his functions) to count on the writer.

The family of Lorca guarded the poet's documents with true care, including the most insignificant, even before he was killed. Among these is a train ticket of the Ferrocarriles Consolidados de Cuba punched on the date of his departure from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, on May 31, 1930.

Dr. Max Henríquez Ureña, branch president, received him at the stations. As told by Camila Henríquez Ureña, her brother, Max, took him to his home in Vista Alegre for his father, doctor Francisco Henríquez y Carvajal, to care for him because Federico was not feeling very well.

Max, who was at the time the director of the Escuela Normal para Maestros de Oriente (Teacher’s school), prepared two halls and one salon where the author of Mariana Pineda spoke on “the mechanics of poetry”. Max made the presentation of the speaker.

It has been thought that the poet arrived in Santiago on the 31st because he delivered the conference on the 1st or 2nd of June since he had arrived in Santa Clara from Santiago on the 3rd. The goblin had disappeared since some affirmed that Lorca had arrived in Santiago “in a carriage of black waters”, the myth had concluded.

There are contradictory accounts of where Federico wrote his famous son. Antonio Quevedo and María Muñoz who published it for the first time in the journal, Musicalia, in April 1930, said he composed it in Havana and dedicated it to Fernando Ortiz.

This son has immortalized its author since it has traveled around the world due to its cadence, its Cuban rhythm, and his distinctive style. It symbolized the poet's inspiration by the Caribbean island which he loved.

According to Ian Gibson, a Lorca biographer, the poet was shot on the morning of August 18, 1936 in Fuente Grande, between Viznar and Alfacer, Granada. Federico Garcia Lorca is part of the vanguard of the XX century. The fascists assassinated him with malice because he was always on the side of the Spanish people.


The immortality of  Federico García Lorca
By: Teresa Torres

Federico García Lorca.
One of the highest voices of poetry in the spansh language.

Practically at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War of 1936, the Phalange shot Frederico Garcia Lorca at the foot of an olive tree in Granada – it had shot one of the most popular poets of the Spanish language. Several poems, his open homosexuality and the signing of the Manifesto in favor of the Popular Front that won the elections that year garnered hi the hatred of the assassins.

The son of a landowner and a teacher who taught him to play the piano from childhood, the playwright was born in 1898 in Fuente Vaqueros (Granada, Spain); he studied with the Jesuits and tried to graduate Law in the university that he abandoned to dedicate his life to literature, painting and music.

Between 1919 and 1928, Lorca lived in a student’s residence in Madrid that was an important center for cultural exchanges where he established friendships with the painter Salvador Dali, the filmmaker, Luis Buñuel and the poet Rafael Alberti, among others who he captivated with his talent. He traveled to New York and Cuba in from 1929 to 1930 returning later to Spain and wrote plays that earned him fame. His first poems were published in “The book of poems” (1921); a year later he organized the first festival of cante jondo with Manuel de Falla and that same year wrote the ”Poem of cante jondo” although it was not published until 1931.

The “Primer romancero Gitano” (the first gypsy ballads) (1928) is a great example of poetry based on popular material offering a mythical Andalusia through dazzling metaphors and symbols like the moon, colors, horses, water or fish to transmit sensations that strongly stress love and death. The popular poet found, in the art of the people, an answer to the desolation of modern Andalusian and Gypsy life who lived on the edge of a society and conserved their dances and songs, in a constant battle with the representatives of order.

After his “Poemas en prosa” (Poems in prose) the author presented a cycle of conferences in New York where he came out in favor of the oppressed, not withholding his intimate obsessions. Classified by many as a surrealist, his verses in “A poet in New York” express the horror of a loss of natural roots, an absence of a unifying mythology or a collective dream to give reason to an impersonal society, violent and heartrending.

Lorca is facing a city and society made of steel and finances which crumbles in the great collapse of capitalism. For the poet, New York is an infernal symbol of the XX century, “a crushing machine of conscience, devourer of the being …where no one seems to be and where one day will be upside down: Qué esfuerzo!/ ¡Qué esfuerzo del caballo por ser perro!/ Qué esfuerzo del perro por ser golondrina!/ ¡Qué esfuerzo de la golondrina por ser abeja!/ ¡Qué esfuerzo de la abeja por ser caballo!... Un día / los caballos vivirán en las tabernas / y las hormigas furiosas / atacarán los cielos amarillos que se refugian en los ojos de/las vacas”. (What effort/what effort of the horse for its dog/what effort of the dog to be a swallow/What effort for the swallow to be a bee? What effort for the bee to be a horse!…One day/the horses will live in the taverns/and the furious ants/will attack the yellow skies that are hidden in the eyes/of the cows”.

Love, death and infancy, just like Spanish traditions were also recurrent subject in the work of the poet, image of a marked creative capacity, of a power of synthesis and a natural ability to capture, express and combine the highest sum of poetic resonance without apparent effort. Frederico Garcia Lorca is perhaps the most famous Spanish poet and playwright of the XXth century and one of its supreme artists.


Federico García Lorca, Goblin and Angel

By: Mercedes Santos Moray

August 09, 2006


Havana, (Cubarte).- The poet would have told his mother, Mrs Vicenta Lorca that he had spent “the best days of my life” during the three months of his only visit to Cuba. In this archipelago, peopled by light as if in his Granada, the poet and playwright found a space of freedom, although the nation faced a period of confusion during the Machado regime.

However, he knew about the affection of Cubans, sensuality of the tropical area, abundance of fruits and women, free of pressures and conventionalism still asphyxiating the peninsula in the 1930s, through a medieval thinking.

It is said the poet would informally introduce to his Cuban friends (men and women): “I am Federico Garcia...”, he who was born in Fuente Vaquero on June 5th, 1898, when Cuba still lived the last echoes of the Independence War and US people began to burst in the war scene.

Actually, his true name would be more ceremonial as he was christened as Federico del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus. But it was the Andalusian goblin who arrived in Havana on March 7th, 1930, and got the better of it attracted by the angel of La Jiribilla until June 12th of that year, at the invitation of Hispanic-Cuban Culture, the chaired by Mr Fernando Ortiz to give conferences as the Caribbean unfolded itself before him.

Then he not only enters the circle of Maria Múñoz de Quevedo, whose magazine Musicalia will publish one his “Sons”, as he will attend the opening of the Cuban Contemporaneous Music Society, which she chairs, but also become a frequent visitor to the likewise-mysterious house of the Loynaz brothers: Dulce Maria, Enrique, Carlos Manuel and Flor, finding the most intimate and personal friendship of the last years, the most iconoclastic and rebellious members of the familiar clan with which the Andalusian has most things in common.

Lorca also spends time with Jose Maria Chacon y Calvo, Emilio Roig, Guatemalan Luis Cardosa y Aragon and Colombian poet Porfirio Barba Jacob, and strengthened his personal relations when he gets rid of formalism and searches into the most popular towns of the Cuban capital that showered them with rites, traditions and secrets, discovering the wonders of leather and dances.

Federico came from New York, the first place of three American visits in the Island, and further to the Southern Cone, to settle as poet, theatre and man in the wide circles of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, which will have a bearing on him, as Havana and other Cuban cities, with the music that will fill him with Sons, Tangos and Milongas.

The temporary mark placing him among us, from the carnality of its happiness, appears in his biography during the spring of 1930, giving birth to the legend and myth of Federico Garcia Lorca, beyond his songs and romances, stanzas and achievements of his stage speech; a well-known author in plays such as Mariana Pineda.

Conferences, gatherings and intellectual meets were the public spaces of the poet of the Generation of 27, who was a fellow of Salvador Dali and Luis Buñuel at the Students´ Residence of Madrid, neighbourhoods in Havana and other cities and towns that draw his attention and his inquisitive curiosity.

Because not only Havana will be part of the fundamental experience of the Andalusian, Cienfuegos, Caibarien, Sagua la Grande and the western nature that will also dazzle him from Yumuri Valley to Viñales Valley, from Matanzas to Pinar del Rio, as well as streets and allies in Havana, where drums prevails through the African rhythm, and the two Santiagos, the splendid one from the southern coast, Santiago de Cuba, the one that sang in his poem “Iré a Santiago” (I Will Go to Santiago), and the other, more modest, Santiago de las Vegas, where he is always welcomed with friendship and love, and where he was invited by the “Euterpe” Cultural Association chaired by playwright Marcelo Salina.

"If get lost, find me in Andalusia or Cuba". That is how Federico Garcia Lorca summed up his experience, and referred to it in a letter addressed to his parents, from April 5th 1930, still dated in Havana. He arrived in Santiago de Cuba late in May, as proven by researchers; he stayed at the central Venus Hotel in that city, where he gave his conference “Mechanics of the new poetry”, while he enjoyed the intensity of the Caribbean Sea and turned into the character of his sons.

The Babel of Iron fed Lorca´s writing on one if his most mature poems, during the prime of his lyrical voice: Poet in New York, which he would complete in Cuba. And in this isle, which he described as “a paradise”, he would extend his drama repertoire with a greater thematic and ideo-aesthetic freedom when emerging, Havana, his play “El Publico” (The Audience), which El Publico theater company premiered in the Cuban capital almost a decade ago, with the direction of dramatist Carlos Diaz; a play Lorca himself knew it would heavily infringe his Hispanic environment, and he had longed for its premiere before the Spanish public during various years, since the death of its author.

Another play in his dramatic poetry in Cuba was “Así pasen cinco años” (When Five Years Pass), which he wanted to premiere with his direction in Madrid in 1936 but he could not because he died. As a playwright, a relevant play such as “La zapatera prodigiosa” (The Shoemakers´ Prodigious Wife), amid his adventures, had a new remake in Havana, as he worked in one of his classical plays, “Yerma”, and it is said he also worked on “Doña Rosita la soltera” (Dona Rosita, the Spinster) or “El lenguaje de las flores” (The Language of Flowers), full of charm and rich in energies.

His last years came further, from his return to Madrid to his execution in hands of the fascists on August 19, 1936. His fight was intensive for over five years, when he was successful with “Amor de don Perlimplin con Belisa en el jardin” (Love of Don Perlimpin with Belisa in the Garden), which had been prohibited during the government of Primo de Rivera in 1929. His works were also intensive with his would-be actress-fetish Margarita Xirgu, who perform may of his characters on the stage.

The Spanish people voted for the Republic on Sunday, April 12th, 1931 and established the second republic that would tragically end in a civil war. In October, when politician Manuel Azaña was appointed, he decided to involve Federico Garcia Lorca in “Misiones Pedagogicas" (Pedagogic Missions) to create a New Spain through art and culture.

Thus, Lorca became the director of the Teatro Universitario, whose shack was in Madrid (from there stems its nominative “La Barraca” (The Shack), and toured the peninsula with interludes by Miguel de Cervantes and “La vida es sueño” (Life Is a Dream) by Calderon de la Barca. Theater, for the first time, reached its natural recipient, people in villages, rural areas and Hispanic cities.

Garcia Lorca was then actor, director and producer. As an actor premiered “Bodas de sangre” (Blood Wedding) at the Beatriz Theater in Madrid on March 8, 1933, before an audience including luminaries such as Mr Miguel de Unamuno and playwright Jacinto Benavente, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1922.

Following the success of that play in Latin America, Lorca left for America, once again, but southwards, and in a short stay in Rio de Janeiro, he meets Mexican intellectual Alfonso Reyes, then ambassador to Brazil, who gave him away a copy of the Ode to Walt Whitman, of his Poet in New York, in a Mexican edition.

Madrid is gripped by political tensions that stretch to culture and the poet departs from Buenos Aires on March 27, 1934 to return to the capital of his motherland, to be on the center of a controversy and face the onslaught of right-wingers and the reaction against him and La Barraca. It is the time of the so-called Bienio Negro (The Two Black Years).

Amid such ups and down, he finishes writing one of his most intense poetic works “

Sonetos del amor oscuro (Sonets of the Dark Love), published in 1986. Leftwing parties and the Popular Front triumphed in elections on February 16, 1936, while Lorca was rehearsing “Asi que pasen cinco años” (When Five Years Pass) and preparing new dramatic projects. At the same, Margarita Xirgu wanted him to go to Mexico City, where she successfully performed the grandiose repertoire of his dramatic poetry:Yerma, Doña Rosita la soltera, La zapatera prodigiosa and Bodas de sangre.

But he was working on “La casa de Bernarda Alba” (The House of Bernalda Alba), a metaphoric play about intolerance, prejudices and dogmas in the Spanish society, and he finished it on June 19, amid a thorny political and social tension, which two years later thrust him against death, following the rightist uprising against the Republic and the start of the Civil War.

His come back to Granada, stay at the house of a friend, poet Luis Rosales, member of La Falange (Falangist Movement), his disregard for the advice to unite with his friend and teacher Manuel de Falla, the homophobia and intolerance, hatred and fury of fascists, laid siege to Lorca, who was accused of being a subversive, until he was riddled with bullets, to share with his remains at their common grave with friends who were assassinated, like him, by the atrocity that would ravage Spain, however, the angel and goblin that dwelled and still dwell within him, allowed him to keep the light and overcome obscurity.

Translation: Ernesto Calderón Quesada (Cubarte)



20 de Agosto 2006

Lorca en su tiempo cubano


Desde el 7 de marzo al 12 de junio de 1930 residió en Cuba el poeta y dramaturgo español Federico García Lorca. Llegó a La Habana invitado por el sabio Fernando Ortiz, entonces presidente de la Institución Hispanoamericana de Cultura.

En marzo, Ortiz se hallaba en Nueva York con su proyecto de realizar estudios sobre los negros del barrio de Harlem. En una oportunidad le fue presentado el poeta por los intelectuales españoles Federico de Onís y Fernando de los Ríos, quienes impartían clases en la Universidad de Columbia.

Ortiz lo invitó a ofrecer conferencias en la Isla y García Lorca salió de Nueva York por tren hacia Tampa y el 6 de marzo se embarcó en el ferry Cuba, que arribó a los muelles de La Habana al día siguiente. Fueron a recibirlo su amigo José María Chacón y Calvo, Rafael Suárez Solís, Félix Lizaso y Santiago Guardiola, administrador de la Hispanoamericana de Cultura.

Durante este periplo cubano Lorca se presentó en el Teatro Principal de la Comedia con cinco conferencias; una en Sagua la Grande, otra en Caibarién, dos en Cienfuegos y una en Santiago de Cuba.

El domingo 9 de marzo, el autor de El público fue presentado a los socios de la entidad presidida por Ortiz. Disertó sobre "La mecánica de la poesía", tema que abordaría también en Sagua la Grande y Cienfuegos. En La Habana, donde fue saludado aquel domingo por importantes personalidades, hablaría después sobre el poeta gongoriano del siglo XVII, Pedro Soto de Rojas, las canciones de cuna españolas, la imagen poética de Luis de Góngora y el cante jondo. Tanto interés iba despertando la presencia de Lorca en Cuba, que las filiales de la Hispanoamericana de Cultura demandaban de Juan Marinello, quien sustituía a Ortiz en sus funciones, contar con el escritor.

La familia de Lorca guardó con verdadero celo los documentos del poeta, hasta los más insignificantes, aún antes de su fusilamiento. Entre estos se hallaba el boleto de los Ferrocarriles Consolidados de Cuba, ponchada la fecha de su salida de La Habana para Santiago de Cuba el 31 de mayo de 1930.

Fue a recibirlo a la estación el doctor Max Henríquez Ureña, presidente de la filial. Según afirmó Camila Henríquez Ureña, su hermano Max lo condujo a su casa de Vista Alegre para que su padre, el doctor Francisco Henríquez y Carvajal, lo atendiera, pues Federico se sentía indispuesto.

Max, que era entonces director de la Escuela Normal para Maestros de Oriente, habilitó dos salas y se improvisó un salón donde el autor de Mariana Pineda disertó sobre "La mecánica de la poesía". El propio Max presentó al conferencista.

Se deduce que el poeta pudo arribar a Santiago el mismo día 31 y que su conferencia la dio el 1ro. o el 2 de junio, porque el 3 llegaba a Santa Clara procedente de Santiago. El duende había desaparecido, pues algunos afirmaban que Lorca había ido a Santiago "en un coche de aguas negras". El mito había concluido.

Sobre dónde Federico escribió su famoso son, todavía existen versiones contradictorias. Antonio Quevedo y María Muñoz, quienes lo publicaron por primera vez en la revista Musicalia, afirmaban que lo había compuesto en La Habana y dedicado a Fernando Ortiz en abril de 1930.

Este son ha inmortalizado a su autor, le ha dado la vuelta al mundo, por su cadencia, su ritmo cubano, su estilo peculiar. Simboliza la inspiración del poeta por la Isla caribeña que amó.

Según opina Ian Gibson, biógrafo de Lorca, cree que al poeta lo fusilaron en la madrugada del 18 de agosto de 1936 en Fuente Grande, entre Viznar y Alfacar, Granada. Federico García Lorca pertenece a la vanguardia del siglo XX. Lo asesinaron alevosamente los fascistas porque siempre estuvo comprometido con la causa del pueblo español.


La inmortalidad de Federico García Lorca

Por Teresa Torres

Federico García Lorca.
Una de las voces más
altas de la poesía en
lengua española.

Prácticamente al comienzo de la Guerra Civil española, el 18 de agosto de1936 el franquismo fusiló al pie de un olivo, en el municipio de Granada, a Federico García Lorca, uno de los poetas más populares de la lengua española. Varios poemas, su desenfadada homosexualidad y la firma del Manifiesto a favor del Frente Popular, que ganó las elecciones ese año, fueron los motivos que alegaron los asesinos.

Hijo de un hacendado y una maestra que le enseñó a tocar el piano desde niño, el también dramaturgo nació en 1898 en Fuente Vaqueros (Granada, España); estudió con jesuítas e intentó graduarse de Derecho en la universidad, pero abandonó la academia para dedicarse a la literatura, la pintura y la música.

Entre 1919 y 1928 Lorca vivió en la Residencia de Estudiantes, de Madrid, un centro importante de intercambios culturales, donde entabló amistad con el pintor Salvador Dalí, el cineasta Luis Buñuel y el también poeta Rafael Alberti, entre otros, a quienes cautivó con su talento. Viajó a Nueva York y Cuba en 1929-30, luego regresó a España y escribió obras teatrales que le concedieron fama. Sus primeros poemas quedaron recogidos en “Libro de poemas” (1921); un año después organizó con el compositor Manuel de Falla, el primer festival de cante jondo, y ese mismo año escribió precisamente el “Poema del cante jondo”, aunque no lo publicaría hasta 1931.

El “Primer romancero gitano” (1928) es un ejemplo genial de poesía compuesta a partir de materiales populares, y ofrece una Andalucía de carácter mítico por medio de metáforas deslumbrantes y símbolos como la luna, los colores, los caballos, el agua, o los peces, destinados a transmitir sensaciones donde destacan con fuerza el amor y la muerte. El popular poeta encontró en el arte del pueblo una respuesta a la desolación de la vida moderna: andaluces y gitanos vivían al margen de la sociedad conservando sus danzas y canciones, en una perpetua querella contra los representantes del orden.

Tras sus “Poemas en prosa”, el autor concibió en Nueva York un ciclo en el que apuesta por los oprimidos, sin dejar de sacar a relucir sus obsesiones íntimas. Calificados muchas veces de surrealistas, los versos de su obra “Poeta en Nueva York” expresan el horror ante la falta de raíces naturales, la ausencia de una mitología unificadora o de un sueño colectivo que den sentido a una sociedad impersonal, violenta y desgarrada.

Lorca está frente a una ciudad y una sociedad hecha de acero y finanzas, que se hunde en el gran derrumbe del capitalismo. Nueva York es para el poeta símbolo infernal del siglo XX, “máquina destructora de la conciencia, devoradora del ser, ... donde nadie parece ser y donde un día todo estará al revés: ¡Qué esfuerzo!/ ¡Qué esfuerzo del caballo por ser perro!/ Qué esfuerzo del perro por ser golondrina!/ ¡Qué esfuerzo de la golondrina por ser abeja!/ ¡Qué esfuerzo de la abeja por ser caballo!... Un día / los caballos vivirán en las tabernas / y las hormigas furiosas / atacarán los cielos amarillos que se refugian en los ojos de / las vacas”.

El amor, la muerte y la infancia, así como las tradiciones españolas fueron también temas recurrentes en la obra del escritor, exponente de una marcada capacidad creativa, de poder de síntesis y de una facultad natural para captar, expresar y combinar la mayor suma de resonancias poéticas, sin esfuerzo aparente. Federico García Lorca es quizás el poeta y dramaturgo español más famoso del siglo XX, y uno de sus artistas supremos.