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Anxious gatekeeping

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

Friday, April 29, 2016

"If you're a theory nerd, Jonathan Mayhew's Apocryphal Lorca rocks"

Or, I hope, even if you're not a theory nerd.



In writing a series of poems that entered into dialogue with Lorca, whose work has been so been so instrumental to me as a poet, I considered the boundaries between reading and writing, and history and myth. How has Lorca’s biography intersected with interpretations of the dynamic body of work he left behind? Furthermore, how does my own cultural and historical perspective inflect my engagement with his work? As a PhD student at Florida State University, I read Jonathan Mayhew’s Apocryphal Lorca: Translation, Parody, Kitsch, which makes a pretty convincing case for the invention of ever-shifting “American Lorca(s)” via 20th-century English language translations, apocrypha, and the claims made on his legacy by the purveyors’ aesthetic and theoretical movements like Ethnopoetics, Queer Theory, the Black Arts Movement, the New York School, the Beat Generation, and Deep Imagism. Through the Lorca persona poems in Spectator, I try to get at the unstable boundaries between emulation and imagination, and influence and invention.


Kara: Historically and culturally, Lorca’s sexuality was taboo, but to the contemporary reader, it seems so evident, I think. I’m fascinated with ways in which self and (social) world intertwine, and Lorca seems to me an embodiment of this overlap. So yeah, it also became a question of how to enter into Lorca’s persona while still making the mask obvious. I mean I can’t and didn’t want to mime Lorca (who did it first and best). So the whole thing was a challenge.

Brian S: He’s someone I wish I’d read more of. I’ll have to make time for it. You’ve re-piqued my interest in him.

Kara: Excellent. Poeta en Nueva York is a great place to start.

Jennifer: Those were some of the most powerful poems in the book for me… maybe because they speak so well to the other poems that wrestle with desire in more contemporary situations.

Kara: If you’re a theory nerd, Jonathan Mayhew’s Apocryphal Lorca rocks, too.


I find it wonderfully gratifying when I find poets and dramatists who have continued the tradition of engagement with Lorca after reading my own book about the subject.

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