Then I realized I had been murdered. They looked for me in cafés, cemeteries and churches…but they did not find me. They never found me? No. They never found me.”
So wrote Frederico Garcia Lorca in his play “The Fable And Round Of The Three Friends”. It almost sounds like David Bowie’s ‘The Man Who Stole the World,’ which Nirvana recorded. In a way it was a prediction about society’s values as it stigmatises and shatters the life of a writer, removing his or her presence. This liminality is part of an intensity inherent in the artistic project. In Lorca’s case this happened with acceleration; he was only 38 when he died. To kill a character might be the most difficult task a writer attempts, and yet we need to renew our foundational myths. The symbols and themes of sexuality, death and mortality abound in Lorca’s poems: the moon, blood, still water, the horse and rider. I remember reading his poetry in my youth and being intoxicated by their imagistic mysteries. 80 years ago today, on August 19, 1936, he was shot by Franco’s Falangist guards, a matyr to the republican anti-Fascist cause as world powers teetered on the brink of war. His writing had been anti-Catholic in sentiment but it was his homosexuality that was targeted.
In ‘Theory and Play of the Duende’ he writes of the relationship between creativity and the divine, between life and art; the cost extracted by art, the dying of the self as we try to inhabit two worlds, impossibly. He was Spain’s queer avant-garde, as Jorge Luis Borges was Argentina’s genre-bending solterón, or Pessoa was Portugal’s priestly, polyphonic modernist. It is fascinating to read how Pessoa’s work has been classified, going by his own possibilities for the non-existent volumes kept as loose folios in his trunk. I sometimes think blogging can be like this; that these fragments and epistles can be arranged and sorted in many forms.
When copies of my book, Letter to Pessoa first appeared, they were announced by my cat Chester darting across the courtyard entrance to my modest townhouse. The courier had arrived with a box, which on opening revealed its treasure. I feel it is perfectly beautiful, the cover image, the design, the fact that when I turn the pages the names of writers I love appear on its pages as precursors: Lorca, Derrida, Woolf, Nabokov, Borges, Genet, Coetzee, Pessoa, though not quite in that order….What I love as well is that there are a few words I have changed in my mind, as privately, the editing never stops, or as I’ve paused, here and there, to postpone a preference.