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Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Writing What You Don't Know

I am trying to figure out what I know / whether I know something significant about Lorca's theater that I could develop into an original article. Basically, the idea is a very simple one: why did Lorca's poetry resonate in the US whereas his theater did not (to the same degree)? So I started making some notes. I have to elicit from myself my knowledge / thinking about this. I have a question to answer, so then I need a hypothesis, and answer to this question. I need to show, also, why the history of something that didn't happen is also interesting. I need some examples that illustrate my points. Here are the first notes I made:
Lorca theater project

*Less evident than poetry in American reception, because playwrights are less interested in him. Those that were, tended to be poets also. The reception is through a poetic views of the theater.

*Dichotomy of realist vs. experimental theater?

*Spicer’s sequel to El paseo de Buster Keaton.

*Strayhorn’s music for Don Perlimplín.

*Albee’s Lorca Play. In a 2005 statement for PEN, he wrongly situates Lorca’s death at the end rather than the beginning of the civil war, constructing a tale about how all the other intellectuals had already left Spain. *^((^%$!
I agree that to write the article, I first need to know what I know. Then the writing of the article will follow a very concrete and disciplined path.


el curioso impertinente said...

* Bad translations.

* Uncomprehending directors.

Look at what happened to Bitter Oleander.

el curioso impertinente said...


Isn't there a kind of inherent difference in the reception of poetry and the reception of theatre.

As your book documents, what does it take for a foreign poet to have an impact on US poetry? A couple of small publishing houses (New Directions, Grove Press), a couple of books of poetry (Romancero, Poeta), and some interested US poets. What else?

What would be the corresponding answer w.r.t. theatre? Very different, I suspect, when issues of staging and performance are factored in.

Also, where are the dramatic equivalents of PNY? The plays in question aren't published at all until very late, or barely known (AQPCA).

Thomas said...

Curioso's comment reminds me of Pound's reflections on Joyce's "Exiles" in a "A Serious Play" (starting bottom of page 141):

"A novel, to be practicable, implies only 500 to 1,000 readers. It is just barely possible to print for a public of that size. But a play, to be commercially possible on the stage, implies at least twenty-one separate audiences of 1,500 each, and demands that they assemble on twenty-one consecutive nights. As there are not 30,000 people interested in either serious literature or serious drama, it is hopeless sighing to imagine that there is going to be an interesting 'theatre' in our time."

Jonathan said...

That's a great quote. I will use it. I conceive it as getting a lot of people together at the same time in the same place to do the same thing, but Pound's statement is more forceful. Even a non-commercial theater requires financial backers and getting audience and actors together all in the same place at the same time.

Thomas said...

I suppose there's a question of generalizability. Will a writer who is both a poet and playwright normally be of interest because of the poems or the plays? If Pound is right, then we'd always expect interest to fall on the poems.