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granada la bella blog

About this blog

Here you will find my personal view about selected events relating to Granada, 'the city where anything is possible', Granada, 'la bella y la bestia', and particularly about the city's uneasy relationship with its greatest son, Federico Garcia Lorca, who alternatively loved and loathed it.

NATURAL INSTINCTS

Uncategorised Posted on Sat, September 21, 2019 06:05:21
Lorca, in his element, in Montevideo 1934

Lorca was evidently deeply troubled by his less-than-successful homosexual relationships prior to his New York visit. We have valuable evidence given by his friend and close confident, Pepe García Carillo, to researcher Agustín Penón in the 1950s regarding Lorca’s position in provincial Granada’s gay scene, and while some of his anecdotes may be taken with a pinch of salt and put down to the bravado of a suppressed minority in the face of a hostile environment, they do throw some light on the poet’s attitudes and behaviour. For example, according to Carillo, Lorca claimed have “slept with all the boys of Valderrubio” (the village that was the centre of his father’s agricultural enterprise throughout much of his childhood and early youth). One supposes that many of the boys of Valderrubio would beg to differ, and not take kindly to the assertion, but it does reveal a certain defiant pride in his sexuality that could never be expressed freely and openly in contemporary society.

Whatever, during the years Lorca spent the summers at his father’s farm in Valderrubio, up until 1925, it is a fact that he liked to spend evenings at the nearby Fuente de la Teja, a spring on the banks of the River Cubillas, in the company of the local youth, the farm workers, who made up a captive audience. There he would read his works, talk about poetry, tell stories. He felt at ease, Carillo suggested, with the simple people of the countryside. He loved the farmworker-type, the more peasant-like, the better; he liked them “dirty and sweaty”: this is according to Carillo’s evidence. This evidence, I hasten to add, is not bolstered by Lorca’s later choice of lovers, who were anything but “dirty and sweaty”.

One of these peasant-types was Frasco, Francisco Santalla Sánchez, who would leave work and go without pay to be with Federico at the Fuente de la Teja. During one of their conversations, Agustín Penón, 20 years after Lorca’s death, notes that goose-pimples suddenly stood out on Frasco’s arms as a result of his memories of the grieved-for poet.

Here, one can’t help sharing the observation of Ian Gibson, who picked out the poem “Madrigal del Verano” from Libro de poemas (1921), to argue that Lorca is describing his own preferences when he asks a fictive “Estrella la gitana”:

  ¿Como no has preferido a mis lamentos
los muslos sudorosos
de un San Cristóbal campesino, lentos    
en el amor y hermosos?
How is it that you didn't prefer to my laments
the sweaty thighs
of a peasant Saint Christopher, so ample,
and slow in love?

After recovering from his depression and after the crucial months spent in New York and Cuba, it does seem that Lorca came to terms with his own sexuality and even came to feel rather comfortable with it: He learnt to stop fighting against his own instincts, as he himself put it.

An indication of this I would suggest is the friendship he maintained with Rafael Rodríguez Rapún which lasted from the time they became acquainted in 1933, with Rapún working as his secretary during his spell as artistic director of La Barraca travelling theatre group, until his death. It coincided with the period of Lorca’s great social, commercial, and artistic successes, which saw the acclaimed performances of the rural tragedies Blood Wedding and Yerma, the whole  Argentinian furore of 1933-4, the completion of Poet in New York, the House of Bernarda Alba, the collection that became known as los Sonetos del amor oscuro, andthe development of numerous other projects cut short by his politically motivated murder. The passionate stage of this relationship may not have lasted beyond the Argentine sojourn, as some suggest, but the friendship does seem to reflect a certain maturity in the life of the great poet. Photographs of the two men show them as relaxed in each other’s company, in contrast to the posing of so many of those showing him together with Dalí, or the one with a smirking Emilio Aladrén.  

with Rafael Rodríguez Rapún
With Emilio Aladrén

Rapún was heterosexual, it is said, but came under his boss’s thrall during the Barraca period. Rapún enlisted in the Republican Army shortly after Lorca’s murder became public knowledge and died as a result of injuries sustained, seemingly fatalistically, on the battlefield a year to the day after Lorca was shot, make of that what you will.

Lorca was notoriously promiscuous, driven by a pervasive and obsessive fear of death and hence an overwhelming need to seize the moment, to live life to the full, to defy death’s menacing proximity, which he seems to have been constantly and painfully aware of. Dalí, Buñuel and other residents of the Student Residence where Lorca resided during much of the 1920s witnessed their friend’s anxiety in this respect; how he would go through a ritualistic performance of his own death before he could fall asleep at night, a purpose of which seems to have been exorcising the horror of physical decay after death.

Sexual fulfilment contributed a means to this end, keeping the horrors of death and physical decay at bay when they most threatened to overwhelm him.

Parallel to his intimate friendship with Rapún, Lorca also maintained an emotional relationship with Eduardo Rodríguez Valdivieso, fifteen years his junior, through much of the 1930s, as secret correspondence between the two would reveal. An aspiring actor, Valdivieso read for Lorca in an audition for a possible role with the Barraca. Lorca’s notes were compassionate and complimentary, without reaching any firm decision as to the suitability for the troupe of his young admirer. On his Saint’s Day, 18 July 1936, the same day as Franco’s nationalist uprising, Valdivieso was guest at the Huerta de San Vicente, now the family’s preferred summer residence on the edge of Granada.  

On the very day he was playing host to Valdivieso at the family summer home, Lorca posted a letter to another young admirer and lover, Juan Ramírez de Lucas, at 19 barely half the poet’s age.  At the age of 38, Lorca was now at the height of his powers and his fame and the target of admiration for many a budding poet, or would-be actor.

Lorca had met Ramírez the year before and had been at once smitten by “that fair-haired boy from Albacete, tall, solitary and friendless.” The letter that he posted on that fateful July day of 1936 reveals to us that the now well-established poet-playwright was harbouring a hare-brained scheme to take this fair-haired teenager with him to Mexico, where he was to promote the Margarita Xirgú Company tour of performances of what were already his classic plays.

Ramírez was in Albacete to seek paternal permission for the trip, a mission that was so clearly doomed to failure that one must wonder if Lorca was not trying to back out of the commitment. In his letter, Lorca urges his young devotee to get his family’s approval for the trip and to persuade them to “accept his ideas”. Yet, we know that Lorca was far from certain of getting his own father’s assent to the Mexico project, and took some care to conceal his own sexual preferences from him.

It has relatively recently been pointed out that the creative process that brought us the Sonetos del amor oscuro corresponded so closely to the poet’s love affair with Juan Ramírez de Lucas that it is reasonable to suppose it was their inspiration. [This is in the Wikipedia entry for Juan Ramírez de Lucas, for example.] Lorca started to compose the sonnet series in Valencia in 1935 in a period of forced separation at the start of their relationship, and we know from Félix Grande that Lorca was working on perfecting them right up to his arrest on 16 August 1936 at the Rosales family home in Granada.

In other words, right up to the last minute of his literary productive life a passionate desire for sexual-emotional fulfilment went hand in hand with the fervour of poetic creation, as it did so often.

The close conjunction between unconquerable sexual attraction, leading to deep spiritual suffering, and ultimately self-realisation and -satisfaction is a repeated facet of the poet’s life experience. It hints at an inability to form deep and sustained long-lasting relationships due to his existential anxiety that had him searching always for new and intense experiences out of fear that life might otherwise somehow pass him by. These short-lived and intensive passions made him suffer, and out of that suffering, that gave him so little respite in his short and artistically fecund life, his poetry and drama took shape.

These observations of mine give us a glimpse into something of what we might expect from the Maurer exhibition. The truth is, argues Maurer, that we have hardly explored this aspect of Lorca.

It’s on till 6 January 2006, open from 10 – 14 Tuesday to Sunday, additionally 17 – 20 Tuesdays to Saturday, closed on Mondays.



LOVE (WITH WINGS AND ARROWS)

Uncategorised Posted on Sat, September 21, 2019 05:42:16

The Christopher Maurer Exhibition has at last opened at the Lorca Centre in Granada. Originally titled Amor (con alas y flechas) – Love (with Wings and Arrows), I notice Jardín deshecho has been added to the title: “The Derelict Garden” perhaps. It focuses on the Andalusian poet’s passionate love – and consequently, sex – life.

Maurer’s ambitious exhibition had been scheduled to launch the Centre’s programme of events to mark the arrival from Madrid of the poet’s legacy (the collection of thousands of documents and manuscripts as well as literary, critical, and artistic works that bear direct witness to the poet’s life, times and work) in October last year, but evidently some hitch led to it being removed silently from the calendar and replaced at the last minute by Desde el Centro: Federico García Lorca y Granada, which focused on the ambiguous relationship that existed between the city and its greatest son. I posted about this on 15 October 2018, #92. (See also my “saga” about the Lorca Centre’s missing millions. http://granadalabella.eu/lorca-s-granada/life-times-and-works/saga1.html) Many of the exhibits in the “Derelict Garden” Exhibition will be on display to the public for the first time and they will include items from private collections, such as personal correspondence from the poet which has been kept stored away down the years.

Lorca’s intense love-life, Maurer’s thesis goes, was inextricably tied up with his incessantly creative and varied literary production. His sex drive, as I understand it, was in a way “just another” creative form of self-realisation, and possibly the most powerful. All his most intimate and passionate relationships, let it be noted, were with men: the love that still did not dare to speak its name freely. Of these relationships, the one that stands out above all others was the one based on that remarkable and powerful mutual spiritual and physical attraction that existed between him and Salvador Dalí. For a short but intense period in the 1920s, this attraction was a powerful stimulus in the creative production of both artists.  

 “It was an honour for me to know that Lorca was in love with me. What Lorca felt for me was more than friendship, it was a very strong erotic passion.” These are words that Dalí, virtually on his death bed, insisted on passing on to literary historian Ian Gibson (El País, 26 January 1986). This statement was made to clarify a rather startling revelation the Catalan artist had made some twenty years earlier in an interview with Alain Bosquet (Entretiens avec Salvador Dalí. Paris 1966), when he had spoken of the overwhelming passion the poet showed for him, a passion that he felt compelled to express in a physical sexual relationship. Dalí was flattered but at the same time alarmed by his friend’s advances. With characteristic semi-ironic self-aggrandisement he said to Bosquet that he “owed” the great poet “a bit of the Divine Dalí’s arsehole” and he went on to refer to the Margarita Manso episode, in which, with Dalí as voyeur, Lorca is supposed to have made love to a young woman for the only time in his life, to compensate for missing out on the delights of the painter’s anus. “Federico was excited knowing that I was watching,” he said. “He transferred his passion from me to the girl.” The incident, which Gibson places in May 1926, is narrated fully in his biography of the painter (La vida desaforada de (The Shameful Life of) Salvador Dalí. 189). Shortly before his untimely death, Lorca confided to a friend that he had never slept with a woman, so either he suppressed the memory of that incident, refused to acknowledge it to that friend, or it never took place. 

Be that as it may, in April 1927, Lorca’s poem “Remansos” (Still Waters) was published on the cover of the literary magazine Verso y Prosa, with the enigmatic line “Margarita, ¿quién soy yo?” (Margarita, who am I?) It was accompanied by a drawing of the fused heads of Lorca and Dalí on the beach at Es Llané. (Gibson. ..vida desaforada…. 191). Meanwhile, in April 1926, Lorca’s “Oda (didáctica) a Salvador Dalí”, in which Lorca had sung in praise of the sure aim of the painter’s arrows, had appeared in the Revista de Occidente.

ARROWS

The arrows referred to by Maurer in his exhibition title, and by Lorca in his ode, are the symbolically phallic arrows shot into the body of Saint Sebastian, associated for Lorca with the suffering and agony of love and consequently with poetic creativity. For Dalí, by way of contrast, they were anything but that. For him, Saint Sebastian was the incarnation of the objectivity that he believed art should aspire to. The absence of emotion, the serenity, the aloofness of the saint as the arrows pierce his flesh are qualities that the painter aspired to in his art and in his life. Thus, Saint Sebastian became a symbolic point of reference for Dalí and Lorca with respect to their conflicting, practically diametrically opposed, views on life, emotional commitment, and art.

Dalí’s poem Sant Sebastià, published on 31 July 1927 and dedicated to the poet, is clearly a rejoinder to Lorca’s Ode of the previous year. The poem reiterates Dalí’s standpoint vis-à-vis Lorca with regard to aesthetic differences, which became more and more defined in the course of the 1920s. Whereas the tone of Lorca’s Ode was full of affection and admiration, there is a distancing coolness in the work of the painter.

In spite of the fact that the two men’s outlooks were becoming more and more incompatible, Lorca greeted Dalí’s poem with enthusiasm, giving it a prime position in the first edition of gallo, a literary magazine he was working on in Granada at that time. The creative stimulus that arose out of their mutual admiration continued to work for some years. Dalí’s “Lorca Period” is identified as starting with Composición con tres figuras/“Academia neocubista” in which a sort of Saint Sebastian figure in the guise of a sailor-cum-Greek youth, maybe a self-portrait, emerges meekly triumphant from the suffering that has presumably been inflicted upon him. (Rafael Santos Torroella. Dalí. Epoca de Madrid. Publicaciones de la Residencia de Estudiantes. 1994. Pp 69-74.) It lasted until Gala replaced Lorca as Dalí’s muse and by 1941 she took his place in a re-working of La miel es más dulce que la sangre (Honey is sweeter than Blood), originally painted in 1927.

The powerful attraction that stimulated both men in the end terrified Dalí. 1927 marked the zenith of their relationship, with Dalí, already recognised as a budding genius, working on the sets and decoration for the Barcelona production of Lorca’s Mariana Pineda. The faithfulness of Dalí’s interpretation of the playwright’s intentions was deemed to be absolutely spot-on.

Yet immediately afterwards, the Catalan painter launched a heartless and withering criticism of The Gypsy Ballad Book, which finally came out in 1928, saying it failed to break with conventional and traditional notions of what poetry is, its imagery was stereotyped and conformist, and it was not as daring or radical as Lorca had been led to believe by the “putrefied” literary establishment.

That criticism might have poisoned any joy the poet should have justifiably felt at the literary and popular success of the work, but what was worse was Dalí’s alignment with the homophobic Luis Buñuel, himself devoured by envy arising from the special relationship that he saw existed between the poet and the painter. This development contributed to bringing about Lorca`s deep spiritual crisis, his flight to New York, and the radical change of artistic direction that then emerged in his creative production. Lorca left for America in June 1929 feeling rejected and betrayed, less by the criticism of his Ballad Book than by the film Dalí made with Luis Buñuel: Le chien andalou: The Andalusian Dog. The Andalusian dog, he knew, was him.

His unhappiness was compounded by his failure to find compensation for his estrangement from Dalí through the unfortunate relationship with the sculptor Emilio Aladrén which he maintained from 1927 to 1928, when the sculptor, supposedly bisexual, abandoned Lorca for an Elizabeth Arden, the cosmetics firm, agent.

So, in 1928, just as his literary breakthrough arrived in the form of the successes of Mariana Pineda and the Gypsy Ballad Book, he began talking more and more frequently of his emotional crisis, which led to family friend Fernando de los Ríos accompanying him on the trip to New York. Stateside, in August 1929 he spent ten days in Eden Mills, Vermont, staying with Philip Cummings, like Aladrén eight years his junior, who he had met in Madrid the previous year. Cummings claims to have destroyed on the poet’s death, in accordance with instructions given, material left him which gave vent to his feelings of rejection and betrayal vis-à-vis Dalí’s collusion with Buñuel.

Lorca’s literary production in these years, from the late 20s to the early 30s, developed in step with the highs and lows – wings and arrows – of his powerfully emotional response to his homosexual relationships. 



DAYLIGHTING THE DARRO

Uncategorised Posted on Sat, August 17, 2019 16:54:43

The shaping of our waterways goes hand in hand with the shaping of our cities is the argument of John Vidal`s Guardian article referred to in the previous blog. According to this account, many waterways (rivers, streams, canals) were condemned to neglect and oblivion and buried underground, so the business of overground traffic could flow better through the city. But in more recent times, the hegemony of the motor car has come to an end, and there is a trend to recover – to ‘daylight’ subterranean waterways as part of a gentrifying process which prioritises a greener and more human-friendly, car-free and pedestrianised environment. The Cheonggyecheon Stream in Seoul is a classic example of this trend. (https://blog.granadalabella.eu/?p=116)

Here, let’s place our own River Darro within this process. The river goes underground by the church San Gil y Santa Ana and it remains underground all the way until it joins the Genil, following the entire course of the roads Reyes Católicos and Acera de Darro, a stretch of well over one kilometre.

The Darro disappears underground. Agencia Albaicín Granada.
The Darro Underground

However, we cannot directly blame the demise of the River Darro on the rise of the motorcar. It was buried long before the popularising of the automobile, in the 1880s, and the reasons given for it were environmental and hygienic rather than anything else. From Arabic times (prior to 1492), the Zacatín and the Alcaicería, on the left bank of the river, had been home to a number of small workshops for a variety of craftsmen. The Revés del Zacatín, the Back of the Zacatin, looked onto the part of the river that now runs under the street Reyes Católicos,  and all the waste from these small workshops was dumped from here directly into the river. A similar situation can still be seen today in Fez, Morocco. 

So it seems to keep the river clean, they buried it!

A secondary reason for covering the river was to try to control the problem of flooding and this involved extending it beyond Puerta Real. There the river swings quite sharply left and this gave rise to the clumsy solution of the Embovedado, or Vaulted Way, because, in order to span the width of the river here, the surface of the road had to be vaulted, to such an extent that they say you could only see the heads of the people walking on the other side of the road.

The Darro, Puerta Real, 19th Century
Work on the Vaulting, between Puerta Real and the River Genil

The covering up of the river was ridiculed and criticised in powerful terms by Angel Ganivet (1865 – 1898), such an important influence on the thinking and attitudes of the forward-looking sectors of subsequent generations, though not influential enough, or well enough understood, to affect the decision-making of local politicians and town planners.

Ganivet argued strongly against the project of the Embovedado. If this part of the river was covered over, he said, it would cause a lot of harm without bringing about any real improvement. The width of the river here made up for the lack of trees to give shade, because it created a kind of mini-climate, cooler and fresher than in the street. The covering of the river would give rise to a wide street, sacrificing the freshness and charm of the river. The street would be nothing more than a prolongation of the Reyes Católicos, vulgar in itself and out-of-character in the context of the shady and narrow streets that lead off it.

[Si para facilitar la circulación se continuara la boveda hasta el extremo de la Carrera se causarían muchos daños sin ninguna seria compensación. El río suple allí con ventaja la falta de árboles y siendo grande la distancia entre las casas el efecto es si la calle fuera estrecha. Con el Embovedado la calle sería más ancha, perdida su frescura y su gracia, vendría a ser como una prolongación de la calle Méndez Núñez (Reyes Católicos), vulgar en sí y ridícula en relación con las calles tortuosas, obscuras que hasta ella descienden. Yo conozco muchas ciudades … Granada la bella.]

 And this criticism was followed by his famous observation that there were many famous cities with rivers running through them, but only in Granada had they hit upon the perverse idea of covering theirs over. The idea, he mocks, could only have been conceived at the depths of the darkest night. Ganivet was not entirely right, though, for, as we have seen, covering over waterways was part of a trend that prioritised overground motorised traffic, which only in the last couple of decades is being reversed.

It wasn’t really until the 1940s that the definitive re-shaping of Granada’s city centre took place, during which time the mayor’s office was occupied by Antonio Gallego Burín. Possibly Gallego Burín’s greatest achievement in his tenure was the provision of safe drinking tap water for the city, but what we want to focus on here is the re-modelling of the area around Puerta Real.

While claiming to be working in the spirit of Angel Ganivet, his urban development plans set about demolishing the crooked, narrow, shady streets emblematic of the old Granada, whose values Ganivet espoused, with the main intention of getting rid once and for all of the low-life Manigua neighbourhood with its brothels and street-corner prostitution, and incidentally erasing part of the old Jewish Quarter, making way instead for the imposing and modern calle Ángel Ganivet (!), inaugurated in 1943 by General Francisco Franco himself.

Calle Ángel Ganivet. Today. Granada Hoy.

Gallego Burín’s Ángel Ganivet Street is uncompromisingly broad and straight, demonstrating little of the old Granada values, though in all fairness it must be said that the project did tackle the problem of the intense summer heat by means of the covered arcaded walkways flanking the street, somewhat in the Italian city portico style. Nevertheless, in spite of its name, the street is more in the spirit of the fin de siècle Gran Vía – that smashes its way through the network of medieval streets that characterised the old Granada – than in the spirit of Ganivet’s urbanistic manifesto (Granada la bella, 1896). Nor did the mayor heed Ganivet’s fierce criticism of the Embovedado,for although its excessive vaulting was now flattened, the widening of the paved area would inevitably diminish any respite from the scorching high summer sun. The street here did indeed become little more than a prolongation of the ‘vulgar’ Reyes Católicos.

With the implementation of Gallego Burín’s reform project, any attempt at recuperating the freshness and charm of the river was abandoned forever. Or at least until today. And the ground was laid for the urban planners’ abject deference to the motor car whose rise and rise would remain unresisted until, by the end of the century, Granada was virtually choked by the uncontrolled access of private traffic. Now, happily, this tendency is being rolled back and as it is we see a chance emerging that the Darro will itself one day be daylighted, returned to the surface, not only in its Reyes Católicos stretch, but all the way from Santa Ana to the River Genil.

Puerta Real. No room for a river here?


Daylighting waterways – a global movement?

Uncategorised Posted on Tue, August 06, 2019 18:26:59

It is not only rivers and streams that are being salvaged from their underworldly existence (https://blog.granadalabella.eu/?p=110, dated 19/7); canals, too, are being resuscitated and regenerated, nowhere more so than in fair England, where they have given rise to a popular slow-pace leisure industry: barge holidays, gliding along predictable rural waterways at a leisurely 4kph.

The Guardian chooses to report in particular (25/7/2019) on the achievements of the Lapal Canal project. Here a three-mile stretch of the 200-year-old Dudley No 2 canal (West Midlands) is being converted from what was a derelict and abandoned industrial waterway into a desirable upmarket urban living and leisure space. It is one of at least 80 canal renaissance projects being undertaken in the UK at the present moment. The project, enthuses the Guardian’s reporter, John Vidal, which will link the suburbs of California and Selly Oak, could be a catalyst for the economic and ecological renaissance of a large area of south Birmingham.

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/jul/25/the-canal-revolution-how-waterways-reveal-the-truth-about-modern-britain

 We know that this depicted transformation of canals in the UK is part of a worldwide phenomenon. We know that in Seoul, for example, the renovation of the Cheonggyecheon Stream (see blog ?p=110 op cit) transformed what was effectively an old sewerage ditch covered by a gigantic elevated highway into a pleasant urban environment with clean water, plants, wildlife and attractive landscaping. The regeneration of such waterways was unimaginable, say, 50 years ago, when the car economy still reigned supreme.

But just as decisions about the use or non-use of waterways shaped the way our cities developed in the 19th and 20th centuries, they are now shaping urban renewal today.

So, returning to our River Darro: Why should it not be released from its gloomy underground passage under Reyes Católicos Street to which it was condemned at the end of the 19th century? And, come to that, why shouldn’t it be further ‘daylighted’  all the way from Puerta Royal to the Plaza del Humilladero, where it joins the mainstream of the River Genil (that flows down from the snow to the wheat), in front of the Mercadona that once was Electrodomésticos (household appliances) Sánchez?

The restoration of the canals in the 1950s and 60s in England, let’s take note, was the result of a consistent and principled act of defiance by a small number of people in the face of authorities which were fully compliant with the demands of the car industry and had no time or money to bother with quaint old-fashioned waterways.

This was the way it was for Granada until well into the 21st century. The motor car decisively shaped the city centre as it is today, in spite of counter-measures undertaken over the last couple of decades. So, what will it take to open up the course of the River Darro, from Plaza Santa Ana all the way down to where it joins the River Genil? – A similarly consistent act of defiance in the face of reluctant authorities, for sure.

In challenging the until-now unquestioned and unquestionable city-centre status quo, the urban development of Granada could take a decisive turn from the traffic-choked and air polluted nucleus that we know today to a green and pedestrian-friendly urban environment that could notably improve the quality of city life.

It is a development that, if allowed, property developers will not be slow to take full advantage of, as average citizens like you and me are banished to the outer suburbs and dormitory towns that surround the provincial capital, and the gentrified city centre will be the stalking grounds of the well-off, following the pattern of other urban restoration schemes.

the renovation of the Cheonggyecheon Stream in Seoul (TwilightShow/Getty Images)
Below the asphalt, the River Darro flows down to the River Genil
The Acera del Darro in the 1930s
the unromantic rendez-vous of the rivers Darro and Genil
the River Darro, 19th Century, as it approaches the Genil (the cypress trees belonged to the Colegio Escalapios on the other side of the Genil)


THE BURIED RIVERS OF ATHENS AND GRANADA

Contemporary Granada Posted on Fri, July 19, 2019 19:03:04

Athens has
not one, but three buried rivers, the Kifisos, the Iridanos, and the Ilissos:
“a crime against the city” the daily newspaper Kathimerini calls them. [This I
read in the Guardian Weekly of 14 June 2019; a report by Yiannis Babqulias.]
There, in Athens, the question of reburying or unburying the Ilissos has taken on some urgency
because its walls are crumbling and the tramlines that pass overhead have
become unsafe. Rather than rebuild the walls, wouldn’t it be better to re-route
the trams, and recover – that is, UNcover – the river? That is the current line
of Greek thought on the matter.

It is a
line of thought that can be identified as part of the ‘Daylighting Urban
Waterways’ movement, which and has had successes from Seoul in 2005, where and when the
Cheonggyecheon stream was resurrected from its urban death bed, to Sheffield in
2017, where the River Sheaf was opened up and incorporated into a pocket of
parkland. (GW again.)

So moves to
rescue our River Darro from under the Reyes
Católicos
Street (see blog post 109, dated 2/6/2019)
are part of a global movement, something that improves their chances of realisation,
surely.

The idea of
burying the River Darro underground was conceived, according to Angel Ganivet (see blog post 109),
at the depths of a dark, dark night towards the end of the 19th century.
Is it not now time for it to be daylighted, in tune with the urban regeneration tendencies of the 21st?

1, The River Ilissos in classical times. 2, The Ilissos today. 3, The River Darro where it goes underground at Plaza Santa Ana. 4, The River Darro in the 19th century.



UNCOVERING AND RECOVERY OF THE RIVER DARRO

Contemporary Granada Posted on Sun, June 02, 2019 09:46:50

Perhaps you know that under the Reyes Católicos street, that vital city traffic artery that
connects Puerta Real with the Gran Vía for buses, taxis and bikes,
runs the River Darro on its way to its meeting with the River Genil, it in turn
on its way down “from the snow to the wheat”. (Quoting
Lorca: Baladilla de los tres ríos in Poema del cante jondo.)

Well, at the recent local elections, the leftist
list, Podemos-IU, led by Antonio Cambril, included the uncovering of
the Darro beneath Reyes Católicos in its election programme. And
unsurprisingly, the demand won the support of Lorca and Granada admirer and
expert, Ian Gibson, as revealed by Alba Rodríguez‘s interview with him in Granada Hoy, 15 May, 2019.
Gibson, convinced by the left coalition’s cultural and environmental proposals,
added his name to Cambril’s electoral list. Air pollution, as we know (blogs #post97 &
#post106), has
reached a critical level and Granada needs more green. Verde que te quiero verde,
he quotes (Lorca again: Romance sonámbulo
from Romancero gitano): “Green how I
love you green”. As for
uncovering/recovering the Darro: it’s a great idea and Gibson has thought so
for decades.

The idea, of course, is not really his. It
goes back to the powerful, coherent and influential urban criticism of Angel
Ganivet, who wrote in his work Granada la
Bella
that he knew many cities with rivers running through the centre of
them (London, Paris, Berlin, etc) but only in Granada had they hit upon the mad
idea of covering theirs over. The idea, he suggested, had been conceived at the
depths of darkest night. The Reyes
Católicos
, vulgar in itself, was out-of-place in relation to the shady and
narrow streets that – then, and to some extent still – lead off it.

For Ganivet (1865 – 1898), the burying of the Darro
was a contemporary event and the more deeply felt for that. Until the 1880s,
what today is calle Reyes Católicos
used to be the Revés del Zacatín, the
Back of the Zacatín, and it was where the local craftsmen, specially the dyers
and the tanners and leather workers, dumped the waste from their artisanal
workshops. Straight into the River Darro. Like they still do today, I believe,
in Fez (Morocco.)

Since Arabic times, the Zacatín and the Alcaicería, on
the left bank of the river, had been the home of craftsmen, the Alcaicería in particular being for
centuries an important centre of Arabic craftsmanship, though the original
workshops were actually burnt down in a devastating fire in 1843, and the area
never recovered anything of its former character. Today, only Orientalist-themed and kitschy souvenir
shops remain.

By the 1880s, be that as it may, the River Darro had
been identified by the authorities as a health hazard for the densely populated nearby area, and hence the crude
decision to simply cover it over. And by 1884 it was virtually all over.

Then, just a
few days after the Ian Gibson interview, a photomontage appeared on the front
page of Granada Hoy (21 May G. Cappa) giving architect Saúl Meral’s impression of
what Reyes Católicos could
look like, gentrified and beautified, with the river recovered from its gloomy
tunnel. His artwork was an attempt to imagine a harmonised continuation of the
aesthetic of the river as it runs along the Carrera
del Darro
, Darro Road, before disappearing into its tunnel just next to the
Santa Ana Church. How closely it may reflect a credible potential
reality is open to discussion, says the architect, but in the end he is clearly
in agreement with Gibson’s attitude of: Verde
que te quiero verde
with regard to Granada’s urban development.
Above: Architect Saúl Meral’s impression of the River Darro uncovered. Below: carrera del Darro



Darío Jaramillo’s cat poems

poetry Posted on Wed, April 24, 2019 21:07:17

In a reading of Darío Jaramillo’s poetry at the Lorca Centre on Tuesday,
Rafael Espejo (local poet) chose poems completely at random, he said, and in accordance with
his own preferences and based on his familiarity with the Colombian’s body of
work.

I noticed he chose six poems about cats and later I saw that Jaramillo –
like TS Elliot (Old Possum’s Book of
Practical Cats
) – has published a book of cat poems. He (Espejo) started
with this one:

Estados de
la materia.
Los estados de la materia son cuatro:
líquido, sólido, gaseoso y gato.
El gato es un estado especial de la materia,
si bien caben las dudas:
¿es materia esta voluptuosa contorsión?
¿no viene del cielo esta manera de dormir?
Y este silencio, ¿acaso no procede de un lugar sin tiempo?
Cuando el espíritu juega a ser materia
entonces se convierte en gato.

Aletargados en perpetua siesta
después de inconfesables andanzas nocturas,
desentendidos o alertas,
los gatos están en casa para ser consentidos,
para dejarse amar indiferentes.
Dios hizo los gatos para que hombres y mujeres aprendan a estar solos.

From DARÍO JARAMILLO AGUDELO, Gatos , Editorial Pre-Textos, Colección
“El pájaro solitario”. Valencia, 2009

This is how I’ve translated it:

States of matter.
Matter can exist in four states:
liquid, solid, gas and cat.
The cat is a special state of matter,
even if there is some room for doubt:
is it matter, that voluptuous contortion?
is it not from heaven, that way of sleeping?
And that silence, does it not perhaps come from a place without time?
When the spiritual plays at being material,
that’s when it becomes cat.

Lethargic in their perpetual siesta
after clandestine night wanderings,
whether oblivious or alert,
cats are at home to be spoiled,
to let themselves be loved unconditionally.
God created cats so men and women would learn to live alone.

¡Uy, uy, uy,
uy, uy, mi gato, …



2018 winner Darío Jaramillo

The Lorca Prize Posted on Wed, April 24, 2019 12:03:27

The winner of the Lorca Poetry Prize 2018 is Darío Jaramillo, from Colombia.
It was South America’s turn. Born in 1947, he is the second successive Lorca
Prize winner younger than me, so that must have brought the average age down a
bit. (See for example //blog.granadalabella.eu/#post49 dated 24/9-2015.) Another interesting feature is that Jaramillo has not got a large number of
poetry prizes in his display cabinet. Having said that, he did win last year’s
Colombian National Poetry Prize for ‘the existential and poetic maturity’ of
his latest publication El cuerpo y otra
cosa
(The Body and Other Things), a prize worth 60 million pesos, which at
around 17,000 euros is a similar amount to what he’ll get for the Lorca.

Darío Jaramillo Agudelo (Santa
Rosa de Osos, Antioquia, Colombia, 1947), miembro de la llamada Generación
Desencantada, es considerado uno de los mejores poetas colombianos del siglo XX
y renovador de la poesía amorosa en castellano. Graduado como abogado y
economista por la Universidad Javeriana de Bogotá, desempeñó importantes cargos
culturales en organismos estatales y fue miembro de los consejos de redacción
de la revista Golpe de Dados.
De su poesía se han hecho tres reediciones completas: 77 poemas (Universidad
Nacional, 1987), 127 poemas (Universidad
de Antioquia, 2000) y Libros de poemas (Fondo
de Cultura Económica, 2003); así como diversas antologías, entre ellas: Aunque es de noche (Pre-Textos,
2000), Del amor, del olvido (Pre-Textos,
2009), Basta cerrar los ojos (Era,
2015) y Poesía selecta (Lumen,
2018). Es también autor de aforismos, Diccionadario (Pre-Textos,
2014); ensayo y prosa autobiográfica, Historia de una pasión (Pre-Textos,
2006) o Poesía en la canción popular
latinoamericana
(Pre-Textos, 2008); y novela, La muerte de Alec (1983,
Pre-Textos, 2013), Cartas cruzadas (1993)
o Novela con fantasma (Pre-Textos,
2004), entre otras obras. El 14 de noviembre de 2018 obtuvo, en su decimoquinta
edición, el Premio Internacional de Poesía Ciudad de Granada Federico García
Lorca.

My translation: Darío Jaramillo Agudelo (b.
Santa Rosa de Osos, Antioquia, Colombia, 1947), member of the “Generación
Desencantada” (Disenchanted Generation), is considered one of the best
Columbian poets of the Twentieth Century and a renovator of love poetry in the Spanish
language. He graduated as a lawyer and economist at the Universidad Javeriana of Bogotá and held important
positions of responsibility in various state cultural organisms as well as
being a member of the editorial council of the magazine Golpe de Dados. There have been three complete re-editions
of his poetry: 77 poemas (Universidad
Nacional, 1987), 127 poemas (Universidad
de Antioquia, 2000) and Libros de poemas (Fondo
de Cultura Económica, 2003); as well as various anthologies, among them: Aunque es de noche (Pre-Textos,
2000), Del amor, del olvido (Pre-Textos,
2009), Basta cerrar los ojos (Era,
2015) and Poesía selecta (Lumen, 2018). He is
also the author of a collection of aphorisms, Diccionadario (Pre-Textos,
2014); autobiographic essays and prose, Historia de una pasión (Pre-Textos,
2006) or Poesía en la canción popular
latinoamericana
(Pre-Textos, 2008); and novels, La muerte de Alec (1983,
Pre-Textos, 2013), Cartas cruzadas (1993)
or Novela con fantasma (Pre-Textos,
2004), among other works. On 14 November 2018 he was awarded, in
its fifteenth edition, the City of Granada- Federico García Lorca International
Poetry Prize.
Here we have Darío Jaramillo (right) and Santiago Auserón discussing poetry in the popular music of Latin America (bolero, tango, ranchero). At the Lorca Centre, Granada, Tuesday 23 April.



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