15 ago. 2007

Mayhew's Laws of Lorca

(1) Law of Lorca: If a US poet is interested in one, and only one, (peninsular) Spanish poet, that poet will always be Lorca. If a US poet is interested in several Spanish-language poets, Lorca is likely to be one of those poets. But not always. [If there is an interest in one poet in Spanish (whether Spanish or Lat Am], that poet will be, without exception, Lorca, Neruda, or Vallejo.]

(2) Law of the duende. Mention of Lorca will usually be accompanied by mention of the duende. Poets who have delved deeper into Lorca, however, are somewhat less likely to emphasize this concept, whereas a poet who mentions Lorca once and only once is extremely likely to link him to this concept.

(3) Law of Lorca and Rilke. If Lorca is mentioned, Rilke is likely to be cited in the vicinity too. A US poet interested in Lorca will also be interested in Rilke (I'm not sure the converse is true, though.) [Or a British poet, for that matter, considering Stephen Spender translated both FGL and RMR]

(4) Law of Lorquian Gender. Being male increases the likelihood of an engagement with Lorca. Being a gay male, even more so. Being black also increases the likelihood. Few women have translated Lorca, written elegies or homages or parodies. Chicks don't dig Lorca, apparently (to borrow the title of a Drew Gardner poem). At least in the same numbers. I haven't figured out why yet.



These laws hold pretty much across other divisions. For example, Bly, Spender, and Koch are all examples of (3). Koch and O'Hara exemplify (1) also, since Koch only cites Lorca (and no other Spanish poet), and FO'H cites Lorca several times + Machado in a single poem.

Spicer doesn't use the word duende in After Lorca, a more in-depth approach. He does use it in the lectures though. Honig, who wrote one of the first books on Lorca in English, doesn't overemphasize the cthonic sprite either. Neither does Langston Hughes, who translated Lorca already in the 30s.

"Could it be a coincidence that both Langston and Ted Hughes translated Bodas de sangre?" There may be a fourth law that states that having the last name of Hughes and being a poet increases the likelihood of having translated Lorca. I'll get back to you on that.

7 comentarios:

K. Silem Mohammad dijo...

Confession: after months of making a mental note to do so, I finally looked up duende.

As Anne says, it's "Creative Writing 101." How was I allowed to go so long without knowing what this term means?

Anyway, now that I know, I think it's sort of interesting. I bet somewhere some neurobiologist or someone has done tests on mental and physiological responses to certain levels of sound and light in art that might lend some weight to the concept. Fingers-on-the-chalkboard/cries-of-cheetahs-in-the-jungle kind of stuff.

Jonathan dijo...

It's fascinating that you would want to see it as a physiological reflex. That that would be your first reaction. Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you. I find it refreshing in a way, after reading Edward Hirsch's book about the duende.

anne dijo...

"If Lorca is mentioned, Rilke is likely to be cited in the vicinity too."

This could not be more true.

Anne

John dijo...

And if American poets are loitering with Lorca and Rilke, the dark waters of the imagination surging in subterranean torrents or vision are likely to be nearby. Or maybe only nearBly.

Tony R dijo...

I only like Parra.

Ed dijo...

I am also "taken" by O. Paz AND P. Neruda..

I suppose "limits" are a result of 'acaneamics' ?

Ana Bozicevic-Bowling dijo...

I'm sort of late for this. I think chicks sometimes like Lorca. I liked him in high school (he was required reading in Croatia, for some reason). But I think male American poets like Lorca because he gives them permission/shows them how to be a sensual melancholy sort of male poet. He's a lesson in lyrical masculinity. It's not necessarily a bad lesson to learn.