Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Poets
Publication Date: May 11, 2021
by Jack Spicer, preface by Peter Gizzi
“Frankly I was quite surprised when Mr. Spicer asked me to write the introduction to this volume,” writes the long-dead Spanish poet at the start of After Lorca, Jack Spicer’s first book and one that, since it first appeared in 1957, has continued to exert an immense influence on poetry in America and throughout the world. “It must be made clear at the start that these poems are not translations,” Lorca continues. “In even the most literal of them, Mr. Spicer seems to derive pleasure in inserting or substituting one or two words which completely change the mood and often the meaning of the poem as I have written it. More often he takes one of my poems and adjoins to half of it another of his own, giving an effect rather like an unwilling centaur. (Modesty forbids me to speculate which end of the animal is mine.) Finally there are an almost equal number of poems that I did not write at all (one supposes that they must be his).”
Through parody and pastiche he exploded every form he touched.
I also find great playfulness, humor and tenderness in some of these poems, and very little shamming, or cant. The first of the Collected Books is After Lorca for which Spicer provided a charming piece of fraudulence, an introductory letter by the dead poet from Andalusia protesting Spicer's liberties with his poems. Spicer in "After Lorca" was attempting to collaborate with a corpse, rather than merely translate his works. The poets, after all, had certain obvious affinities: an interest in language, their homosexuality, a common derangement of the sensibilities such as that other great homosexual poet, Rimbaud, had recommended.
—Richard Elman, The New York Times