Spanish Surrealism

Perambulating the Hispanic thread through the surrealist Rhizomaze we meet Federico Garcia Lorca in Madrid, publicly defending the work of Dali and Joan Miro, taking part in a proposed surrealist manifesto and writing ‘Oda a Salvador Dali’. A residency in New York, 1929, produces a surrealist volume of poems, Poeta in Nuevo York, from the juxtaposition of the ‘extrahuman architecture… furious rhythm, geometry and anguish’ of New York upon his sun-drenched Andalusian sensibilities. ‘Lorca devoured all the properties of surrealism, stuffed his cheeks with them, like a conjurer, blew them out of his mouth again as poems…’ wrote American Conrad Aiken. 30

The Parisian surrealist movement draws poets and writers from ‘el Nuevo Mondo’, among them Cesar Moro, from Peru, and Cuban musicologist/novelist, Alejo Carpentier. Moro discovers surrealism in Paris, 1928: his inaugural contribution to the genre, Renommee de l’amour, published in the May ‘33 edition of Breton’s Le Surrealisme au Service de la Revolution, reads as an ‘automatic text, without punctuation, without breathing spaces’. 33 He later does much to promote surrealism ‘across the Latin American continent, from Mexico to Peru to Argentina’. 34

1927 sees another Latin American poet, Chilean Pablo Neruda, embark on a period of travel abroad on Consular missions for the government of Chile. He visits Rangoon, Colombo, Singapore, Batavia, and adjacent areas of Asia and Oceania, before being welcomed by Garcia Lorca to Madrid in 1934, where he stays till 1937. 31 During this time he writes and publishes Residentia en la Terra 1 & 2, poetry bearing the ‘free association of images; bold use of psychic and verbal relations apparently disjunct and gratuitous; automatism; autohypnotic verbalisation; hallucination and dreamwork’ 32 hallmarks of surrealism.

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