Sunday, February 22, 2015

Poet in New York

Frederico Garcia Lorca's Poet in New York is a lush collection of poems written during a nine month period he spent in the city (1929-1930). These poems are so richly lyrical. It is like eating the most high quality dense chocolates. His imagery is classic and naturalistic, and his sentiment is poetic and aching. These are poems of sad lament. These are poems that cry out, that mostly wail, though at times they whisper.

His language is unforgettable. Some favorite lines:

"Prepare your skeleton.
Hurry, love, hurry, we've go to look
for our sleepless profile."

"and the Jew pushed against the gate chastely the way lettuce grows coldly from its center."

"The architecture of frost"

"This is not hell, but the street."

"Look at this sad fossil world"

"While the people look for pillowed silences
you will pulse forever, defined by your ring."

"It's a capsule of air where we suffer the whole world,
a tiny space alive in the crazy unison of light"

"What matters is this: emptied space. Lonely world. River's mouth."

I also want to share something from the beginning of the volume, a note Lorca wrote to a friend describing his own passport photo: "

"It borders on the light of murder; borders on the nocturnal street corner where the delicate pick-pocket stashes his wad of money. The whimsical lens has captured, over my shoulder, a sort of harp, soft as a jellyfish, and the whole atmosphere has a certain finite tic, like the ash of a cigarette..."

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Peter Bruno and Joe Elliot at The Shed Space

I attended such a marvelous reading tonight at The Shed Space, a lovely, intimate art space in Park Slope.

Peter Bruno read several exquisitely crafted stories from the manuscript, Garibaldi Avenue, that focus on the youthful experiences of Salvatore in New Jersey during the 60s and 70s.  I know it is totally corny to say, but these stories are tender and tough. They are finely detailed vignettes that capture a lost time. For instance the closely observed description of the boy's mother applying heavy makeup -- a suburban mom envisioning herself in her own mirror as a glamorous movie star. There were so many very moving moments in these bittersweet, and beautifully written stories. I can't wait for the opportunity to read the whole thing.

(Also an aside: "house dresses"! Where did they come from and why? And where did they go? -- what a blast from the past!)

The second reader of the evening was the amazing Joe Elliot, a poet I have heard about for years but never had the pleasure of hearing his work. These poems totally rocked. They are wry and funny but also depict a kind of profound awareness of the daily absurdity of life. These poems have an exuberant energy that is uplifting at the same time that they convey heavier and difficult truths. I just ordered two of his poetry books.