Brian Dedora. Lorcation. (BookThug 2015).
In the third & final section of this remarkable journey to locate Lorca where he lived, & died, & most importantly (mostly) wrote, Brian Dedora (who in Lorcation stands in for himself as writerly I in a manner unusual for him) insists that ‘Lorca calls us to witness. . . . Lorca in his work rises to stand universally, calling on us to recognize our rootedness, feet firmly in ground.’ But Lorca’s universality is ever hard won, Dedora would say; after all he was murdered for being gay, as well as leftist in his politics; perhaps mostly for being a poet, a representative of the imagination against a regime that sought to crush it.
Dedora’s journey in Lorcation gains much of its power from his identification as a gay man with this poet who, in a time when it was dangerous to do so, did not hide who he was & wrote poems & plays that remain honestly powerful because his was a morality of powerful honesty. As Dedora says in the essay ‘Uno Soy Yo = I Am One,’ the second part of Lorcation’s journey, in his reading he ‘could not help but follow Lorca’s threaded arc, being who one is, of the courageously written awareness of his growth as a homosexual. This is, of course, not the only thread to follow in his work, but for me this was the golden one that led to the centre of things both for him and me personally.’ The essay is a complex personal quest to comprehend the largeness of Lorca’s vision, in which he both ‘gifts us, warp and woof, weaving with morality, honour, and loyalty the most important homosexual testament of the early twentieth century,’ & writes some of the most wonderful poetry of his time with a universal reach. The essay offers the essence of a deeply personal critique.
I have been reading backwards in Lorcation, because although Dedora gestures in his Preface to the unusual-for-him narrative arc of beginning, middle, & end, his text is, in fact, deeply recursive, & the violence to his subject he represents throughout the poems of the first part seem to invite a careful rereading after you have read the rest. They mix the poet’s responses now to the places Lorca lived (& died) with the moments in which he faced life & death there. ‘Granada,’ for example is both the place where the poet writing this book joins the poet he is writing about in a delirium of shared joy & sorrow, but also where ‘I have a gift for you / we have a gift for you / Lorca has a gift for you’ & in a moment of trans-historical synthesis, ‘We will make a new brotherhood / Federico de la Expiratión / his breath ascending . . . // A last gifted breath / . . . / to move out beyond the plains of Granada / reaching out to Al Andalus and New York / invigorating a world of the sympathetic / mouth to mouth . . .’ This is the joy, always there in the work, but the sorrow, the terrible loss will out, & this connection severed as ‘I think of him’ while ‘you don’t think / of the funnel jammed into his mouth / for the jugs of castor oil /to humiliate himself / tied to a chair’; yet even there ‘he has a gift for us // who are those men / who stand on the bottom rung / of the ladder of Hell / chained in the slaughterhouse / by the revulsion of their selves / who live next door?’
As these poems pursue the poet Lorca living & dying they dig deep into the well of dark personal & public politics that killed him. It is Franco, the Caudillo, whose minions riding in ‘on your clouds of gunsmoke’ killed the poet who nevertheless ‘lost /his words were free / rippling silver in water / that feeds furrows / lifting into winds / keening canto jondo / to the beat of gypsy boot heels / from a depth of soul you never owned.’
From this vision, Lorcation moves forward into the essay that declares the union of poet then & poet now, how this knowledge fortifies the writer discovering the depth of his connection to the older poet & his vision, finally realized in ‘The Last Part of the Journey,’ with its concluding lines, for all readers: ‘he is one, / i am one, / as are you . . .’ Lorcation is a heartfelt journey we can all be glad to share.
It’s only fitting that Lorcation is published with a Spanish translation on facing pages by Martin Rodriguez-Gaona.