by Dale Smith

The poems translated here are not meant to contribute to the already substantial body of Lorca translations in English. I translated portions of Poet in New York for my own amusement and study. I also began an interlinear investigation or continuation of some of the images found here. In a sense, this is a trans-Atlantic collaboration across great spaces.

Garcia Lorca's 1929 arrival in New York City might be considered beside the 1527 shipwreck of Cabeza de Vaca off the coast of Texas. Their writing-conceived in drastic contrast-relates narratives of their independent New World encounters. Separated in time by nearly 400 years, both men still shared a poetics of encounter consisting of awkward physical landscapes, alien cultural environments and inventive survival arts. While Cabeza de Vaca certainly faced an experience remarkable for its physical intensity, (he spent nine years in primitive conditions), Lorca arrived to alien shores in the midst of economic upheaval. (Strangely, we might pause to consider how economy acts as the vessel of spirit in America). That autumn in Manhattan, bodies flew from windows as fortunes failed on the stock exchange. An era of optimism transposed in a moment to failure, pessimism and desperation. Lorca, with little English, witnessed that modern city with the sensitivity of a bewildered stranger. Peasant relations to fields and villages were obscured for him by Modernity's systematic chill. The verticality of New York's avenues, its exquisite motion and exhausting masquerade of forms fed his Earth-bound inwardness. I hope my translations preserve a sense of the alien perception of images in his work.

My own uses of this text were inspired by curiosity and delight in Lorca's extraordinary, image-rich language. It was my desire to enter those images directly. My interlinear projections also were conceived in the spirit of listening, though often discordance proved to me its artful purpose.