Last Tuesday we celebrated World Poetry Day. I tried to post something on that day, or at least yesterday, but my time was kind of consumed. Life happened, and living is more important than writing, if I have to choose.
However, I didn’t want to miss this day any longer, because I needed to talk to you about my favourite poet. In fact, I have to say that I am not such a huge fan of poetry. I like it, and I know how important it is for all the History of humanity. But I don’t like reading it that much. Nevertheless, there is a poet that moves me like no one ever, that shows me the world through poetry in a way I never thought about it. He is a huge influence on me, not only on my work, but also (and mainly) on my persona.
He is no other than Federico García Lorca.
Federico was born in Spain, on 5th of June, 1898, in the beautiful city of Granada. He showed an amazing predilection for Art since he was just a child. So, when he grew up, he moved to Madrid, to live and to study in the Residencia de Estudiantes, a vital cultural element that was composed of a building called, literally, Student Residence. During his years on the Residencia, he met such amazing geniuses like him, with outstanding names like Salvador Dali, Luis Buñuel, Rafael Alberti, Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda… Those huge names belonged to the Generation of ’27, the last whisper of awesomeness, cultural and intellectual, on Spanish territory before and after the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, that remained alive until 1975, but that has some “sons” still moving around on the present day.
Because of the Civil War (1936-1939) that was the origin of that Dictatorship, the Residencia stopped working and all of the students came back to their homes… or went to the war. Federico was one of those who just wanted to continue working, even though he made his political position public and clear. Federico travelled around Spain during the war but, on the terrible night of the 19th of August, 1936, he was killed near a village called Alfajar, on the province of his beloved Granada. Why was he killed? Because he was in favour of the Republic and, mainly, because he was gay.
The man died, but not his soul. His work has suffered from censorship since then, even nowadays it does. But the legend started the moment he exhaled his last breath. And from there, we started studying his work. Because his work is his soul, and it was a bright as the sun.
Federico was a multidisciplinary artist. The main focus of his work was on poetry, of course, but he didn’t reduce it to just poetry. In fact, Federico is taken as one of the most prolific, technical and innovative playwrights and theater directors of the last century in Spain. He also painted like his dearest Dali, of whom he was madly in love. He also created filmscripts, operas, collection of poems from other poets… He looked for influence from the most outrageous poets in the History of Literature, and so he used that influence on his work. He was representative of the Surrealism, Futurism and Symbolism, not only in Spain but in Europe as a whole. He created huge ties with writers all over the world, until the point that H. G. Wells, as the President of the Pen Club of London, worried about his wellbeing during the war, sent some letters to the Militia of Granada to know about Federico.
His style was not flat, not simple but also not overcomplicated like some poets like to use. He talked about life as life is: sometimes happy, sometimes sad, but always beautiful. When you read one of his poems, you can see what he was seeing, feel what he was feeling, think what he was thinking. His work is natural, organic, understandable and empathetic. Any person, more or less used to poetry and/or academic vocabulary, can just feel his happiness, his sadness, the sun on his skin… and without the blink of an eye, you feel like Federico.
As you can see, Federico was not just a poet, a writer… an artist. He was THE artist, the one that Spain needed… but not the one that it deserved. Federico represented everything an artist is supposed to be, as some geniuses of the Rennaisance were, like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo… Federico loved life, and all the creation it comes with. And, not only that, he loved other to be creators, being inspired and being inspirational for others, to create as much Art as possible to infuse our society with it, to breath Art on every heartbeat… He was all about that.
As I said, he was born in Granada, which, for me, is a magical city. Inside the city of Granada, there is another city, which is one of the most beautiful places in the world, the Alhambra, created by the Moors centuries ago. Full of beauty on any step, on any corner, on any building. The smell of Art goes on those streets like the scent of orange trees. For me, Federico is the artist, but, also, the beauty, mystery and magic of Spain, of our History, of the Mediterranean and all its cultures and civilizations it has held since the beginning of time. He enbodies the tenderness of the flesh, the softness of the skin of a petal blooming in Spring, the light touch of a love that ends. Those things that we can’t really explain, but feel, and, at the same time, put together such deep meanings.
And do you want to know something mysterious yet amazing and even more magical? Federico was supposed to have visions, to see the future during his dreams. And so, he wrote this verses:
Then I realized I had been murdered.
They looked for me in cafes, cemeteries and churches
…. but they did not find me.
They never found me?
No. They never found me.
From “The Fable And Round of the Three Friends”,
Poet in New York
He wrote this during his travel to New York, on 1929. Believe it or not, the whole poem is awfully similar to what it could happen to him when he was assassinated. Maybe he knew he was going to die on the Spanish Civil War, and, even knowing it, he chose to stay there, create, write, produce… and fight against that War with the tools he had: his mind, his heart and his soul. The first two were stopped, but we will never, ever, let the remaining soul be forgotten, because Art will always be what moves us, and no war will stop us.
Maybe it was just a poem.
And my imagination is rather alive.
Last year, on the 80th anniversary of his murder, I wrote a few words about him. They stayed on my personal Facebook, but I wanted them to be as public as my blog, for you to read:
Federico García Lorca was your name in life and a symbol since you were forced to leave us. Today, 80 years ago, some murders thought they were winning while killing you, as they thought when killing millions of Spanish people. You were another victim on an unfair, unnecessary and ruthless war, like every one of them. They thought to be winners and loosers, but we all lose. We get comfort in your work, amazing and wonderful, but it could be as big as we could never dream about.
Federico, for me, you represents and will always represent the soul of the Spanish passion for the Humanities, that was shot along so much richness during the Civil War. I hope your memory will give us back the strength and passion you had and that we also had on this land, and that this country will blossom again like it did, for the last time, with your generation.