Federico García Lorca: the poet who loved Cuba

Federico García Lorca: the poet who loved Cuba

Heritage & Traditions

By Alejandro Rodriguez Ruiz

The Spanish poet and playwright Federico García Lorca is one of the Spanish-American literary figures who loved Cuba most, an island where he said he had spent the happiest days of his life, and is also one of the most revered by Cubans.

“This island is a paradise. If I get lost, let them look for me in Andalusia or Cuba”, the writer expressed in a letter to his parents, who left indelible marks here. After spending six months in the United States where he wrote his monumental Poet in New York notebook, at the invitation of the Hispanic Cuban Culture Society, then chaired by the Cuban scholar Fernando Ortiz, García Lorca traveled to the Caribbean nation to give five conferences.

Such was his fascination with this country that his stay lasted 98 days —from March to June 1930—, during which he was not only in Havana but also in the provinces of Pinar del Río, Cienfuegos, Varadero beach and according to what everything seems to indicate, in Santiago de Cuba, although his presence in this eastern city has been questioned by some researchers.

In Cuba he maintained friendly relations with many intellectuals, especially with Flor Loynaz and her brothers Carlos Manuel and Enrique, in whose residence of Línea and 14 he spent almost every afternoon of his stay in Havana, talking, playing the piano and drinking whiskey and soda. To Flor he gave his manuscript of Yerma while to Enrique he gave the original of his controversial work The Public, which he wrote in the Cuban capital.

A highly recognized theater group in the current dramaturgical scene bears precisely that name, "The public", as a tribute to the Spanish poet. But he not only knew the culture of the elites. It is said that he was a regular at the Marianao beach bars where he was able to appreciate the art of the legendary percussionist “El Chory”.

According to the late Cuban National Poet Nicolás Guillén: “he liked to go out at night to fritas, to the coffee shops in Marianao, where El Chory was already present, and befriended treseros and bongo players”. From these life experiences his famous poem “Son de negros en Cuba” was born, which was included posthumously in his book Poet in New York. But the influences also reached the pages of Guillén, who for many owes to the Gypsy Ballads, and his intersection with the son, style that characterized him as the main literary fusion of the African and Spanish branches of the culture of his country.

Researchers maintain that Federico García Lorca, whose name bears the main hall of the Gran Teatro de La Habana, fascinated, like no other foreign writer, the Cuban intellectuals of the time.

Among them we can mention Juan Marinello, Alejo Carpentier, Eugenio Florit, Jorge Mañach and Emilio Ballagas. The young José Lezama Lima, in whose poetry it is difficult to find any Lorca influence, was also seduced by the charisma of the Granada-born man and left testimony of his ability as a lecturer and his contagious sympathy. Lezama affirms that Lorca was impressed "by many sounds and spells of our land and mainly by our real Cuban blacks."

All the great literary figures who agreed with him had something to say about his time in Cuba and both before and after the triumph of the Cuban revolution, there have been numerous editions and many representations of his theatrical works that are still in the repertoires of the most important. recent and prestigious companies of the Cuban scene.