Monday, July 29, 2019

‘Poet in New York’ the way García Lorca conceived it

Federico García Lorca

‘Poet in New York’ the way García Lorca conceived it

For the first time ever, bookstores will be selling the collection of poems that the Spanish writer gave to his publisher just weeks before dying

Jesús Ruiz Mantilla
Madrid, 27 March 2013

Handwritten notes made by Lorca.
Handwritten notes made by Lorca.

When Federico García Lorca walked into the office of José Bergamín on the eve of July 13, 1936 and failed to find him there, he left behind a written note: “I dropped by to see you and I think I’ll come back tomorrow.”

But tomorrow never came.
The poet left Madrid for Granada just a few days before civil war broke out. He naïvely felt that he would be safer back home.
What he left his publisher on the table inside the newsroom of Cruz y Rayamagazine was the original manuscript – partly handwritten, partly typed, broken down into several parts and structured into 35 poems and 10 sections – of a masterpiece that was to change literature forever: Poet in New York.
Many will be familiar with the rest of the story; Lorca was executed on August 19 by right-wing forces, the original manuscript underwent all sorts of vicissitudes, and until now Poet in New York had never been published in the way that its author desired.

The book was originally going to be titled Introduction to death

After being lost for years, the original text finally emerged in 2003. The García Lorca Foundation bought it at auction for 194,000 euros. Until that June day, Lorca’s real intentions regarding this work had been shrouded in controversy and mystery.
But this week, Galaxia Gutenberg / Círculo de Lectores will deliver to bookstores the version of Poet in New York that Lorca himself would have liked to have held in his hands. The book comes with a meticulous analysis by Professor Andrew A. Anderson of Virginia University, and facsimiles of the original document where one can make out the handwritten lines and Lorca’s manual corrections over the typed text.
On Pablo Neruda’s recommendation, the book was originally going to be titled Introducción a la muerte (or Introduction to death). It was too premonitory, though inevitably truthful, and it was later toned down. The result is an unfinished work –the author and the publisher would have normally worked together to give it its final shape – although that does not make it any less valuable, striking or crucial.

'Ruina', with the last verse crossed out.
'Ruina', with the last verse crossed out.

The manuscript underwent an epic journey worthy of a chanson de geste. When war broke out, Bergamín went into exile, taking with him the poems that Lorca had conceived while staying at Columbia University for nine months in 1929-30, coinciding with the stock market crash and the onset of the Great Depression. “Lorca wanted most of them to be included [in the book], but not all of them. The excess ones have been referred to as orphans,” says Anderson.
Bergamín tried to get the book published in Paris, but his efforts were stymied by the hassle of his new life abroad and, very likely, by his inability to locate a few poems that Lorca had said he wanted to include but without providing a copy of them. During that time, however, two typed versions were produced that later served as the basis for the first editions of Poet in New York.
Bergamín later traveled to Mexico. “When he was there, Bergamín gave away the manuscript to Jesús de Ussía, who had provided financial support for his publishing house, Ediciones Séneca. Years later, when Ussía left Mexico, he left his personal possessions, including the Lorca manuscript, with a relative, Ernesto de Oteyza,” says Anderson. His widow then gave it away to the actress Manolita Saavedra, who kept it in her house in Cuernavaca until the 1990s. When Saavedra realized that a lot of people were searching for this manuscript, she decided to sell it. It went out on auction in 1999, but was not purchased by the foundation until 2003.
It was then that the text began to be carefully analyzed. This document contained the answers to the criticism that Bergamín had to endure after betraying the author’s intentions, at least according to many people. There were decisions that Bergamín made out of pure need, since some poems (like Crucifixión, purchased at auction by the Culture Ministry in 2007) were lost and could not be included in the volume. Although Lorca himself had demanded the original back from Miguel Benítez Inglott after giving it to him as a gift, he got no reply.

In the end, Poet in New York saw the light, and it included 32 poems

“In general, the criticism has not been fair. We were unaware of all the details of the process, and without that appreciation it is difficult to pass judgment,” adds Anderson.
The story of how Poet in New York was finally published is also worth telling. Between 1930 and 1935, there were numerous references to the book that Lorca had written during his US stay, and which he wanted to get published. But war prevented that last, necessary meeting between writer and publisher. Gathering the poems together was quite a feat, since the “to-be-included” list was left incomplete and Lorca had given some of the poems away to friends, or else sent them to magazines for individual publication.
In the end, Poet in New York saw the light, and it included 32 poems. It was first published in the US in 1940 and almost simultaneously in Mexico, where Bergamín had landed with a delegation of the Spanish Culture Junta, of which he was its first chairman. In Mexico, Bergamín founded the publishing house Séneca, which was loyal to the principles of Ediciones del Árbol, the Spanish company that would have put out the book there, had it not been for the war.
During his stay in New York, he offered the world premiere of the book to the publisher William Warder Norton, who took him up on it. But it was the Mexican edition that drew the most criticism, especially because of the editing work by fellow poet Emilio Prados, says Anderson, noting that that Prados changed several elements in the original, corrected the punctuation and included more than one appendix.

The first page of Lorca's Double Poem of Lake Eden.
The first page of Lorca's Double Poem of Lake Eden.

Despite so many setbacks, the book was already starting to leave a mark. “It has inspired many poets of different nationalities and from different eras,” says Andersen. “With Residencia en la tierra I and II, we get the epitome of a certain type of avant-garde style during these years. In many ways, this text is very comparable to T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. Thanks to the second translation into English, dating from 1955, it influenced many US poets.”
Now, after a lifetime of coming and going punctuated by question marks and controversy, the wider public will finally have access to, if not the last word, then the next-to-last word by Lorca regarding his definitive conception of his most open, universal yet enigmatic body of poems.
Asesinado por el cielo (murdered by the sky), he wrote in the first verse of Vuelta de paseo (or, Back from a walk), as he explored his own solitude and amazement at Columbia University, where he gestated most of these poems. Now that his dream edition is about to see the light, perhaps the poet can rest a little more in peace, wherever he may be.


- Federico García Lorca left his native Spain for the first time in the summer of 1929.

- After a fleeting stay in Paris, the poet arrived in New York, where he spent at least nine months. He stayed at a student residence in Columbia University.

-In March 1930 he took a train on his way to Cuba. From Key West, in Florida, he boarded a ferry that took him to Havana, where he spent around three months. 

- An ocean liner brought the writer (and the manuscript that now sees the light) to the port of Cádiz in July of that same year. Back in Spain, Lorca was in no hurry to get Poet in New York published.

Friday, July 26, 2019

A Lorca spring in the Big Apple

Federico García Lorca
New York, 1929

A Lorca spring in the Big Apple

The city is celebrating his stay and his influence with around 20 activities and two exhibitions

Andrea Aguilar
Madrid, 27 March 2013

Lorca, at Columbia University in 1929.
Lorca, at Columbia University in 1929. GARCÍA LORCA FOUNDATION
In his verses he wrote about "the false dawn of New York,” about "the cindered windows of Broadway" and about "sand, caiman and fear," gutting the avenues of the Big Apple in powerful images that signaled a before and an after in his poetry. Federico García Lorca arrived here in June 1929 and left in March of the following year to go to Cuba. He did not learn English as he had hoped to when he enrolled at Columbia, but when he left he took with him a number of poems that would end up forming the basis for his Poeta en Nueva York.
Although there is no round anniversary to justify it, for the next three months the city will pay tribute to the man whom it inspired to make his anguished, surrealist cry. Ironically, New York is also the city that his relatives chose for exile, and where the poet’s father died. But what New York is celebrating in the spring of 2013 is the collection of poems that arose from those intense nine months in 1929-1930.
The busy activity program includes a Patti Smith concert (scheduled for June 5, the day of Lorca’s birth), a lecture by the poet and literary critic Gonzalo Sobejano at Columbia University, a puppet show at SEA Theater in the Lower East Side; and a walking tour of the places where Lorca stopped.
“In the cultural world, Lorca’s influence never ends. The Lorca who lived in New York was the most modern Lorca,” says Javier Rioyo, director of the Cervantes Institute in the city, which will screen movies based on Lorca’s work, host talks and give presentations. But the Cervantes – the Spanish equivalent of the British Council – is just one of a dozen or so centers participating in the festival, including the King Juan Carlos Center at New York University, City University of New York and BOMB magazine. The poet will even get his own radio show, Radio Lorca, courtesy of ArtonAir. The festival was organized by the Federico García Lorca Foundation, Acción Cultural Española and the New York Public Library, with support from La Caixa.
Laura García Lorca, director of the Foundation and niece of the famous author, explained the genesis of the festival in a telephone interview.
“We started thinking about how best to launch the García Lorca Center in Granada and what kind of programming would be best suited to this legacy,” she said. “We have tried to underscore the meaning of Lorca’s work today, with a program for all types of audiences that encourages dialogue among artists. The response has been fantastic.”
The third page of 'The Boy Stanton'ampliar foto
The third page of 'The Boy Stanton'
One of the highlights of the “Lorca spring” is an exhibition at the New York Public Library (NYPL) called Back Tomorrow: A Poet in New York, which for the first time puts on public display a nearly complete series of drawings that Lorca made in the city, as well as his last manuscript of Poet in New York – the very same one that he left on the Madrid desk of his publisher José Bergamín with a note saying “I think I’ll be back tomorrow,” shortly before being executed in Granada and buried in an unmarked mass grave.
The original idea, Laura García Lorca explains, was to organize this show at the new Granada center and to later have it travel to New York. But successive delays in the center’s inauguration changed the order of events.
The show, which is curated by Christopher Maurer and Andrés Soria Olmedo, brings together personal objects such as Lorca’s guitar, passport, photographs and other manuscripts. It does not follow a chronological order. “We chose to focus on key issues of García Lorca’s New York experience: his life as a student at Columbia, his reaction to Wall Street [he was an eyewitness to the 1929 crash and the ensuing scenes of despair and ruin], his discovery of the rich African American culture and of racial prejudice, his prodigious ability to transform reality, and finally the story of the manuscript itself,” says Maurer.
This scholar also notes that the New York of 1929 holds echoes in the present: “We are now experiencing the consequences of the social ills that Lorca pointed out in 1929.”
Notes for the title page of 'Poet in New York'
Notes for the title page of 'Poet in New York'
Paul Holdengräber, creator of the unorthodox and by now legendary series LIVE NYPL, will organize one of his literary happenings with writers, poets and singers.
“It will not be a reaction to the exhibition, but about bringing together a series of artists who will share with us their love of Lorca, whose body of work is admired by the likes of John Ashbery, Leonard Cohen and Jim Harrison. We will be able to hear original, unreleased recordings that the Foundation gave us. The element of surprise is very important to me, and this will also be a gift for the city,” says Holdengräber, who believes that mystery plays an essential role in the fascination that Lorca and his oeuvre continue to exert.
While working on Poet in New York, Lorca traveled to Vermont with the poet Phillip H. Cummings, and this stay is the focus of another exhibition. Back in Spain, Lorca spent several years mulling over his New York material; he wrote an introductory speech to the poems and even contemplated the possibility of publishing his verses in two separate books. By early July 1936 he had already made up his mind, and he went over to the newsroom of Cruz y Raya, thinking of discussing the project with his publisher Bergamín. Not finding him in, Lorca left his famous note saying he would be “back tomorrow,” right before being summarily executed.
The poet wrote “The New York dawn grieves/ along the immense stairways/seeking amidst the groins/ spikenards of fine-drawn anguish.” Now, the dawn heralds a celebration of his verses in the greatest “Lorca Spring” in New York memory.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Federico García Lorca / City That Does Not Sleep

City That Does Not Sleep

By Federico García Lorca
Translated and edited by Robert Bly

In the sky there is nobody asleep. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is asleep.
The creatures of the moon sniff and prowl about their cabins.
The living iguanas will come and bite the men who do not dream,
and the man who rushes out with his spirit broken will meet on the street corner
the unbelievable alligator quiet beneath the tender protest of the stars.


Nobody is asleep on earth. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is asleep.
In a graveyard far off there is a corpse
who has moaned for three years
because of a dry countryside on his knee;
and that boy they buried this morning cried so much
it was necessary to call out the dogs to keep him quiet.


Life is not a dream. Careful! Careful! Careful!
We fall down the stairs in order to eat the moist earth
or we climb to the knife edge of the snow with the voices of the dead dahlias.
But forgetfulness does not exist, dreams do not exist;
flesh exists. Kisses tie our mouths
in a thicket of new veins,
and whoever his pain pains will feel that pain forever
and whoever is afraid of death will carry it on his shoulders.


One day
the horses will live in the saloons
and the enraged ants
will throw themselves on the yellow skies that take refuge in the eyes of cows.


Another day
we will watch the preserved butterflies rise from the dead
and still walking through a country of gray sponges and silent boats
we will watch our ring flash and roses spring from our tongue.
Careful! Be careful! Be careful!
The men who still have marks of the claw and the thunderstorm,
and that boy who cries because he has never heard of the invention of the bridge,
or that dead man who possesses now only his head and a shoe,
we must carry them to the wall where the iguanas and the snakes are waiting,
where the bear's teeth are waiting,
where the mummified hand of the boy is waiting,
and the hair of the camel stands on end with a violent blue shudder.


Nobody is sleeping in the sky. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is sleeping.
If someone does close his eyes,
a whip, boys, a whip!
Let there be a landscape of open eyes
and bitter wounds on fire.
No one is sleeping in this world. No one, no one.
I have said it before.


No one is sleeping.
But if someone grows too much moss on his temples during the night,
open the stage trapdoors so he can see in the moonlight
the lying goblets, and the poison, and the skull of the theaters.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The secret love of García Lorca

Ampliar foto
Juan Ramírez de Lucas, pictured in 1973.

The secret love of García Lorca

Juan Ramírez de Lucas never spoke about his relationship with the famed poet

Amelia Castilla
Madrid, 20 May 2012

Juan Ramírez de Lucas, a journalist and art critic from Albacete who died in 2010, did not want to take his secret to the grave.
For more than 70 years he kept all the memories of his sentimental tragedy - the drawings, the letters, a poem and a diary - locked up inside a wooden box. But before dying, he handed his legacy to one of his sisters, so that she might make it public. Despite the strict silence he observed during his entire lifetime, and the support of friends who knew about the relationship but never said a word, Ramírez de Lucas did not want the memory of his great youthful affair to be lost forever. The name of his love? The poet Federico García Lorca.
They met in Madrid during the tumultuous period of the Republic, and had kept their families in the dark about their romance, given that one came from a very conservative background and the other from a family of Socialists, who were very straitlaced when it came to homosexuality.
Ramírez de Lucas was a very attractive and cultured young man, who dreamed of being an actor, and Lorca promised to take him to all the stages of the world. They were madly in love, and decided to move to Mexico. By then, Lorca was a successful author and a household name halfway across the globe; he was also tremendously reviled by violent right-wing groups in Spain. But even though his friends kept insisting that he was in great danger, the poet did not want to travel alone. In July 1936, the couple said goodbye to each other at Atocha train station. Ramírez de Lucas, who was only 19, was on his way to Albacete to seek his family's permission to go to the Americas with the poet. Lorca boarded a train to Granada to say goodbye to his own parents before leaving for Mexico.
The pair met in Madrid during the tumultous period of the Republic
Lorca experts have welcomed the decision by Ramírez de Lucas to allow his personal documents to see the light, given their historical importance. Laura García Lorca, the poet's niece, already knew about the existence of the letter, and said that it could be "of enormous interest" for the archives of the Lorca Foundation.
A novel by Manuel Francisco Reina, Los amores oscuros (or, The dark loves), due out on May 22, retraces that relationship, while the heirs of Ramírez de Lucas are in talks with a publisher over the possibility of making his diary and other documents public.
At this point in time it is unnecessary to explain that the couple's plans could not have turned out any worse than they did. Just as Ramírez de Lucas suspected, his father was enraged, and threatened to go to the Civil Guard if he attempted to leave Albacete without his permission (which was necessary at the time until the age of 21). Juan had been sent to Madrid to study public administration, and despite his good grades, the father felt that his son had betrayed his trust. His parallel life as an actor at the Anfistora Theater Club, created by Pura Ucelay to showcase Lorca's work, did not fit into his father's plans for him - much less a relationship with a homosexual poet. Otoniel, the eldest of his 10 siblings and the only one who knew about Juan's double life, tried to intercede on his behalf, but it was in vain.
Meanwhile, down in Granada, Lorca telephoned Ramírez de Lucas and encouraged him to be patient, assuring him that his parents would end up accepting it. Juan received a letter dated July 18. But that was the last he ever heard from him. Lorca's arrest at the home of the Rosales family, and his subsequent execution, remained initially obscured by the confusion surrounding the outbreak of war. But when he did find out, Ramírez de Lucas was in shock. And his feelings of guilt only grew stronger with time.
One scholar is sure that Ramírez is the real subject of 'Sonetos del amor oscuro'
After serving with the Blue Division (a Spanish unit of volunteers in the German army during WWII) to wipe his slate clean, Ramírez de Lucas returned to Madrid and rebuilt his life. But Agustín Penón, the writer who traveled to Granada in 1955 to investigate Lorca's death, found out about the relationship and made note of it in his annotations, which were later published by the historian Ian Gibson and Marta Osorio, another Lorca scholar. They were just a few lines lost in between hundreds of pages, but Lorca's lover never replied to any of the requests for interviews by either one of the researchers.
A good friend of Lorca's, the poet Luis Rosales, found him a job at the newspaper Abc, where he began a career as an art and architecture critic. He started a diary and never let go of the memories of his time with Lorca, including a poem written on the back of a receipt from Orad Academy, where he once studied. Not even his new partner, with whom he spent 30 years, knew about his affair with Lorca.
But after two years of extensive research, the scholar Manuel Francisco Reina is sure that Ramírez de Lucas is the real subject of Sonetos del amor oscuro.
"We knew there was a great love who in a way provided inspiration for the Sonetos del amor oscuro, but we didn't know his name," says Félix Grande, a poet. "In many conversations I had with Rosales he told me that all the days that Lorca spent hiding in his house, he kept correcting those verses nonstop. I never managed to get him to say the name. Rosales had promised Federico that he would keep the secret, and he was a man of his word."
That last letter from Federico to Juan, sent four days after Franco's uprising and just before mail service was interrupted, smelled of jasmine - the poet had slipped in a flower from his parents' garden between the sheets of paper. The message to Juan was that he should be strong and try to convince his parents to respect his ideas.
"You can always count on me. I am your best friend and I ask you to be skillful and not let yourself get carried away by the tide. Juan, it is necessary for you to laugh again."

Friday, July 12, 2019

A Poet`s Secret Romance / Lorca's last love letter

The newly unearthed letter written by Lorca on July 18, 1936.Ampliar foto
The newly unearthed letter written by Lorca on July 18, 1936.


Lorca’s last love letter

Newly unearthed note sheds light on why the writer failed to flee the Civil War

Amelia Castilla / Luis Magán
Madrid, 16 May 2012
Seemingly indifferent to the terrible events unfolding around him and the dangers they posed, in July of 1936 Federico García Lorca was concerned only with persuading his 19-year-old lover, Juan Ramírez de Lucas, to convince his parents to allow him to leave Spain for Mexico with him.
Indeed, in his letter dated July 18, the day that General Francisco Franco’s military uprising was announced, García Lorca still seems unaware of the cataclysm about to be unleashed: “In your letter there are things that you shouldn’t, that you can’t, think. You are worth so much, and you will be rewarded.
“Think about what you can do, and let me know straight away so that I can help you in whatever way, but be very careful. I am very worried, but knowing you, I am also sure that you will overcome every obstacle because you are overflowing with enough energy, grace, and happiness, as we flamencos say, to stop a train.”
Ramírez had met 38-year-old Lorca, author of Blood Wedding, Yerma and The House of Bernarda Alba, in Madrid the year before, where he was completing his studies to become a civil servant. An aspiring actor, he had performed in several productions staged by Lorca, and the pair had fallen deeply in love.
Lorca was well connected and politically active, and was aware of the rumors of a military revolt against the Second Republic. He had already decided to accept an invitation to visit Mexico, but now he wanted to go with Ramírez.
The problem was that Ramírez came from a traditional provincial family of 10 children, and his father felt betrayed that his son had secretly pursued his dream of a career in acting, although he had passed his exams.
Lorca could probably have arranged for false papers for Ramírez, who was still not old enough to travel, but refused, telling his lover that he must explain things fully to his father, and get his permission to leave the country.
“I think of you all the time, and you know this without me having to say it, but silently, and between the lines, you should be able to read the love I feel for you, and the tenderness in my heart… Count on me always. I am your best friend and I ask you to be political and not allow yourself to be washed along by the river [of fate],” Lorca wrote.
According to Ramírez’s diaries, he and Lorca discussed leaving Spain together and both went to their separate homes to bid farewell to their families in the weeks leading up to the outbreak of civil war.
Ramírez details his father’s angry opposition, refusing to issue his son with papers so he could leave Spain. Lorca’s decision to return to Granada would cost him his life, and historians have often wondered why he put himself in danger.
Ramírez did not receive Lorca’s missive until July 22, shortly before all communication links broke down between areas controlled by Franco’s forces and those of the Republican army.
By this time, the poet and playwright had left Madrid, and was staying at his family’s summer home near Granada. A month later, on August 18, Lorca was seized by pro-Franco thugs and shot the next day. His body has never been found.
The murder happened during a period when Franco’s supporters took advantage of the chaos of the war to unleash a reign of terror against anybody suspected of Republican sympathies. There has also been speculation that Lorca’s homosexuality, which was well known, was also a motive.
The letter is part of a collection of papers that include a poem written in Lorca’s hand on the inside cover of a textbook to which EL PAÍS has been given exclusive access. The papers have come to light two years after the death of Ramírez, who had kept his relationship with Lorca a secret until his death, aged 91, in 2010.
The short poem, dated May 1935, is entitled Romance, and describes Ramírez as “that young man from La Mancha,” repeating: “he came, mother, and looked at me. I cannot look at him!”
It was apparently written on a journey the two lovers made to the southern city of Córdoba. The poem is handwritten on the back of a receipt for the Orad Academy in Madrid, where Ramírez de Lucas was studying.
A handwriting expert has reviewed the poem and declared that it was written by García Lorca. The poem was composed at the same time as Lorca was writing his famous “dark love” sonnets.
Lorca experts have welcomed the decision by Ramírez de Lucas to allow his personal documents to see the light, given their historical importance. Laura García Lorca, the poet’s niece, already knew about the existence of the letter, and said it could be “of enormous interest” for the archives of the Lorca Foundation, which she heads alongside her sister.
The publication of the letter and love poem to Ramírez comes in the run-up to a major exhibition that Laura García Lorca is organizing in New York.
Lorca biographer Ian Gibson, who lives in Spain, says he believes the documents will shed new light on Lorca’s last days.
Gibson says that during his exhaustive research into Lorca, Ramírez’s name came up as someone who was close to the poet in his final weeks, but that he had always refused to be interviewed.
“I did everything possible to interview him,” reveals Gibson. “I knew that his relationship with Lorca was very important. I did manage to talk to him, but he said he didn’t want to talk to me; he said that he was working on publishing something himself, and I thought he just wanted to get rid of me.”
“We can only hope that the papers will be made available soon,” says Gibson, who believes the letter is likely to be the last one that Lorca wrote. “According to my information, the painter Pepe Caballero wrote a letter to Lorca around this time, but it was returned to him unopened.”
A novel by Manuel Francisco Reina, Los amores oscuros (The dark loves), which is due out on May 22, retraces that relationship, while Ramírez de Lucas’ family is reportedly talking to a major publisher about a book deal.
Like many others looking for a way to erase the sins of the past after the Civil War, Ramírez de Lucas joined the Blue Division, the military unit that Franco sent to help Hitler after the invasion of Russia in 1941. He was wounded and decorated.
After the war, with the help of poet Luis Rosales, he found work as an architecture and art critic for the newspaper Abc, working there for the rest of his life until his retirement in the 1980s.
Ramírez de Lucas never talked about his relationship with Lorca, although it was well known among his colleagues. Not even his new partner, with whom he spent 30 years, knew about his affair with the famous writer.
In later life, after the death of Franco, he began to write about the tragic events that had marked his early life.
Shortly before his death, he handed over the documents, along with the material related to Lorca, to one of his sisters, saying he wanted them to be published.
“We knew there was a great love who in a way provided inspiration for the Sonetos del amor oscuro [Sonnets of dark love], but we didn’t know his name,” says the poet Félix Grande.
“In many conversations I had with Rosales he told me that all the days that Lorca spent hiding in his house, he kept correcting those verses nonstop. I never managed to get him to say the name. Rosales had promised Federico that he would keep the secret, and he was a man of his word,” he says.


A. C. / L. M.
The writer Agustín Peñón first began investigating the circumstances of Lorca’s murder in 1955, traveling from New York to Spain to talk to friends and colleagues of the poet and playwright in Granada and Madrid, documenting his conversations in minute detail.
One clue came in the form of something that Pura Ucelay, a theater director in Madrid who worked with García Lorca, remembered him saying to her: “Hey, Pura, where do you find such handsome men?”
Lorca was referring to Juan Ramírez de Lucas. “He was from Albacete, and came from a good family. Federico was mad about him. He said he would make him a great actor, that he would take him abroad, that he would perform in all the great theaters, and that he would be an internationally acclaimed actor.
“As soon as she told me about him, I asked Pura if there was any chance of meeting him, that it would be of enormous help in my work if I could find out about the last feelings of Federico. She made no promises, but said she would try. Perhaps she was trying to protect a young man who was not openly homosexual… That was when I began to suspect that perhaps the reason Lorca had not left for Mexico was because of a new love in his life.”
Peñón returned to New York with his material in a suitcase, which is where it stayed for decades. Peñón refused to publish anything, saying it would put the lives of many people at risk.
Years later, Lorca biographer Ian Gibson would track Peñón down and, after reading his notes, himself try to talk to Ramírez de Lucas, but without success.