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The American Agenda

The American Agenda

(p.22) 2 The American Agenda
Apocryphal Lorca
Jonathan Mayhew
University of Chicago Press

No study of Lorca's poetry on its own terms can explain why his poetry resonated so strongly in the United States. For an explanation of this resonance, this chapter turns to a set of purely domestic criteria that have little to do with Lorca as he might appear within his own cultural context. Lorca was particularly attractive to poets seeking to define a new variety of American cultural nationalism. He arrived on the scene as an alien figure, strongly identified with a quite different brand of national exceptionalism—that of Spain itself. Far from being an obstacle, however, Lorca's foreignness proved useful to those in search of a form of American cultural nationalism that might stand opposed to cold war politics. Lorca's poetry came to the fore with the poets associated with The New American Poetry, an anthology published in 1960. The contributions of African American and gay male poets are especially noteworthy during this period, but there is also a more generic Lorquismo, characterized by a tone of naive enthusiasm and by a proliferation of abusive citations of the duende.

Keywords:   Federico García Lorca, American poetry, national exceptionalism, cultural nationalism, cold war politics, Lorquismo, duende

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