6 jun. 2007

The idea of Lorca as a kind of anti-intellectual figure is deeply wrong. (Unfortunately, he has been hero to anti-intellectuals like Bly.) In the Spanish context, he seems less erudite than the "poet-professors" of his generation. The voice that speaks in his poems is often infantilized or faux-naif. His characters speak in concrete images, not abstractions. All this creates a false perception.

Lorca was an extremely self-disciplined and rigorous creator. He systematically mastered all the poetic styles of Spanish poetry, from the medieval lyric and "romance" through the contemporary avant-garde (passing through the baroque, the nineteenth-century, modernismo). He was the master of every conceivable meter and form. He didn't like automatic writing because he really wanted that strict discpline. The idea that he just strung together unrelated "surrealist" images is just untrue.

He seems to be an inspired figure, one for whom the muse or duende is more significant than discipline and self-conscious mastery. Nothing could be more false. He worked extremely hard, with quite a bit of the basic apprentice work coming before the age of 20. Look at the Obra inédita de juventud, his juvenilia. (His first book, Libro de poemas was published when he was 22, but the volume of juvenilia I am referring to predates even this.) That most of this juvenile poetry is just derivative detritus is part of my point. In Kenneth Koch's terms, he had a tremendous "poetry base."

It reminds me a bit of Coltrane, in the sense that Coltrane was an obsessive practicer from an early age. Another figure of pure, inspired genius, supposedly What such talent really is, then, is a talent for becoming so absorbed in the work that everything else disappears. (Coltrane reportedly was so into music that he didn't know who Willie Mays was.)

FGL and JC both created numerous major works before their premature deaths, works that are inconceivable as the products of naive geniuses.


Something I read in Reginald Shepherd's blog recently. Where someone in his class said, "You act as if you knew more than anyone else in the room." To which his natural reply was, I do know more than anyone in the room, than everyone in the room combined, at least about poetry. And if I didn't, you would have cause to complain.

I hope I can use that in the classroom some day. That is just the perfect comeback. The idea that poetry is just subjective crap about which everyone's opinion is equally valid pervades our culture. To the statement, "I have a right to my opinion" the proper response is no, you don't have a right to an opinion about something you know nothing about. This seems harsh, but really what good is it to tolerate ignorance about an art form?

1 comentario:

Andrew Shields dijo...

Oh, I am going to use that when somebody pulls a version of "I have a right to my opinion" on me: "No, you need to know something about the subject first." Perfect.