García Lorca, A Poet in New York (BW)

New York, NY



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the story

García Lorca, A Poet in New York (BW)

In Poet in New York, Federico García Lorca, the famous Spanish poet and playwright, has portrayed his version of New York in the 1920s. It was a period when a phenomenon named Spanish Craze began to flourish in the United States, especially in New York. At the end of the 19th century, there already existed small Spanish-speaking communities. After the Spanish American War, many people arrived in New York from Puerto Rico and other countries in Latin America. At the same time, the Spanish working class came to New York with the desire to find more career opportunities. Therefore, after the sovereign power of the Spanish Empire terminated and after a huge influx of immigrants, a fascination for the Spanish culture and cuisine started to occupy the lives of the New Yorkers.

García Lorca’s work focused on depicting New York through his observations from the Great Depression and his personal traumas, depicting scenes filled with desolation and emotions predominated by alienation. However, through his writings, some information can still be extracted concerning the Spanish community and the Spanish Craze. His initial time in New York reflected a strong Spanish presence. García Lorca portrays the time when he arrived in New York. He was greeted warmly by a group of people at the pier in June 1929. He assumed that this special treatment was a result of his fame, and it was something that made him more distinct. In January the next year, García Lorca dined with two famous figures, La Argentinita and Lucrecia Bori, at a Spanish restauarant. The group thought they were being served Anís del Mono, a famous Spanish anisette liqueur, but they were instead given a ‘knock-off’.

García Lorca did not purposefully portray the Hispanic community, but the strong influence of the Spanish culture can be sensed through his descriptions. The fake anisette signaled the rise of food and drinks that originated from Spain. The huge welcome García Lorca received at the pier may not be because of his fame but the result of the Spanish Craze: he was a Spaniard and the American society was passionate about everything Spanish. More importantly, his anecdotes embed information about the diversity of the Spaniards in New York. Although they are being recognized with the general identity ‘Spanish’, the people in García Lorca’s writings in reality came from different regions like Valencia and Galicia. They are are given a new, unanimous identity. This mix of culture and identity could be a reason that facilitated the development of the Spanish Craze.