Poet in New York

Federico Garcia Lorca; Edited by Christopher Maurer; Translated by Greg Simon and Steven F. White

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

320 Pages



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Written while Federico García Lorca was a student at Columbia University in 1929–30, Poet in New York is one of the most important books he produced, and certainly one of the most important books ever published about New York City. Indeed, it is a book that changed the direction of poetry in both Spain and the Americas, a pathbreaking and defining work of modern literature.

This edition, which has been revised once again by the renowned García Lorca scholar Christopher Maurer, includes thrilling material—new photographs, new and emended letters—that have only recently come to light. Complementing these additions are García Lorca’s witty and insightful letters to his family describing his feelings about America and his temporary home there (a dorm room in Columbia’s John Jay Hall), the annotated photographs that accompany those letters, a prose poem, extensive notes, and an interpretive lecture by García Lorca himself.

An excellent introduction to the work of a key figure of modern poetry, this bilingual edition of Poet in New York, a strange, timeless, vital book of verse, is also an exposition of the American city in the twentieth century.


Praise for Poet in New York

"[This] is one of the perplexing classics of 20th-century poetry. It is a difficult, sometimes bewildered, often hermetic work. It is elusive and enigmatic, mysterious, tortured—a book, to borrow one of the poet's own phrases, 'that can baptize in dark water all who look at it.' Reading it in [this] convincing new translation . . . one feels the anguished authority and the demonic force and impact of the original. For all its strangeness, Lorca's testament may well be one of the greatest books of poems ever written about New York City—second, perhaps, only to Walt Whitman's powerful embrace of the American megalopolis . . . [Poet in New York] is a fierce indictment of the modern world incarnated in city life, but it is also a wildly imaginative and joyously alienated declaration of residence—an apocalyptic outcry, a dark, instructive, metaphysical bowl of loneliness."—The New Yorker

"In its orchestration of peaks and valleys, of introspection and of the cruelty of modern industrial life, Poet in New York is stunning. Though it initially provoked some reactions of wounded patriotism here, the Andalusian poet actually put his finger on a lot of what ails us. His criticisms of our rapacity, materialism, and blindness to deep truths—not to mention more specific ills like racism—ring only too true. Lorca's gifts for graphic and intensely patterned language are abundantly displayed, along with his knack for creating a mood and stirring associations even at his most 'incomprehensibly' surrealistic: 'The moon could rest in the end along the pure white curve of the horses. / A violent beam of light that escaped from a wound / projected the instant of a dead child's circumcision on the sky.'"—David H. Rosenthal, The New York Times Book Review

"Simon and White have recreated magnificently this pivotal work by the Spanish poet . . . The reader's understanding of Poet in New York is enhanced by an excellent introduction and notes by the editor, and is further enriched by his translation of fourteen letters written by Lorca during his stay in the New World [as well as] a translation of a lecture by Lorca [about this book] . . . At last, a translation of Lorca that succeeds."—Choice magazine

"[This book] does what one wants a translation to do: make the original really come alive in the second language."—W. S. Merwin

"This is a superb translation . . . Simon and White have succeeded so well that I can't imagine anyone trying to improve on what they've done."—Mark Strand

"Lorca's long out-of-print poetic sequence about New York City, newly translated in this bilingual edition, is as contemporary as today's headlines: slums, racism, violence, and cries of loneliness punctuate this verse. Written during the Spanish playwright's nine-month stopover in 1929-30, and steeped in surrealistic technique, [this] unrelentingly negative antihymn reads the urban condition as symbolic of our culture's materialistic corruption of love and its degradation of nature . . . This [edition] is accompanied by Lorca's letters and a lecture he delivered on this lyrical work."—Publishers Weekly

"The hermetic symbolism and turbulent images surrealistically convey Lorca's nightmarish impressions of Depression-era New York. This new version, more readable, accurate, and literal than prior translations—including Ben Belitt's (Grove, 1983), the only other integral bilingual edition available—and enhanced by addenda such as the editor's scholarly notes on the publishing history of the work, may establish the standard against which all future editions will be measured. An auspicious beginning to a planned three-volume series of Lorca's poetical works. Essential."—Library Journal

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Read an Excerpt

Federico García Lorca, one of Spain’s greatest poets and dramatists, was born in a village near Granada in 1898 and was murdered in 1936, at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.

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