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Poet in New York : A Bilingual Edition
Newly translated for the first time in ten years, Federico Garcia Lorca's Poet in New York is an astonishing depiction of a tumultuous metropolis that changed the course of poetic expression in both Spain and the Americas. Written during Federico Garcia Lorca's nine months as a student at Columbia University at the beginning of the Great Depression, Poet in New York is widely considered one of the most important books Lorca ever produced. This enduring and influential collection offers us a New York City populated with poverty, racism, social turbulence, and solitude--a New York intoxicating in its vitality and devastating beauty.
After the tragedy of September 11, 2001, poets Pablo Medina and Mark Statman returned to this seventy-year-old work and were struck by how closely it spoke to the atmosphere of New York after the World Trade Center crumbled. They were compelled to create a new English version of Poet in New York--translating the poems with reverence and irreverence, caution and wildness, humility and nerve. They translate Lorca's words with a contemporary poet's eye, which allows their work to uphold his surrealistic technique, mesmerizing complexity, and fierce emotion, unlike any other translation to date.
An excellent introduction to one of the most significant figures in twentieth century poetry, Poet in New York is a defining work of modern literature and this new bilingual edition is an exciting exposition of one American city that continues to have the ability to change our perspective on the world around us.
The great Spanish modernist Garcia Lorca (1898-1936) didn't much like the Big Apple: depressed by the grime, the crowds and the tall new buildings, aghast at American capitalism with its big winners and its destitute losers, uneasy with his identity as a gay man, fascinated (and sometimes repelled) by street culture in Harlem and homesick for his native Andalusia, he turned his year at Columbia University in 1929-30 into some of the fiercest, unhappiest and strangest poems of the century. This facing-page translation--inspired, the translators say, by 9/11--preserves the oddities and the angers in Lorca's metaphor-loaded free verse. The famous Ode to Walt Whitman salutes the Fairies of North America,/ Pajaros of Havana, hoping against hope to resist self-hate. Interludes in Vermont and a coda in Cuba suggest the mystical ties with nature that Lorca could not find in Manhattan. Yet the dominant note is a brilliant hostility: at Dawn in New York, furious swarms of coins/ drill and devour the abandoned children. The Chrysler Building suggests a million iron workers/ forging chains for the children to come. Lorca's power, and the translators' fidelity, make this a worthy new version of a 20th-century classic. (Jan.)
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December 20, 2007
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