Monday, 25 August 2014

Podcast on Federico García Lorca

Last week I put together a podcast to commemorate the death of Federico Garcia Lorca. The episode was part of the Spain Uncovered Podcast, which I have recently set up. In the podcast, myself and guests cover some of his early poetry, his language and his legacy.

I talk about The Butterfly's Evil Spell at length and also, of course, about When Five Years Pass.

I hope you enjoy it and if you do, drop me a note or subscribe to the Spain Uncovered Podcast by visiting

Friday, 6 December 2013

An Adventurous Snail

I'm currently doing a bit of research while I prepare the introduction for The Butterfly's Evil Spell. I've just come across this lovely poem about a snail. Another incredible piece of simple, insightful and beautiful poetry.

I'll give you the Spanish version first and then my first attempt at translating it.

La hormiga, medio muerta,
dice muy tristemente:
"Yo he visto las estrellas."
"¿Qué son las estrellas?", dicen
las hormigas inquietas.
Y el caracol pregunta
pensativo: "¿Estrellas?"
"Sí -repite la hormiga-,
he visto las estrellas,
subí al árbol más alto
que tiene la alameda
y vi miles de ojos
dentro de mis tinieblas".
El caracol pregunta:
"¿Pero qué son las estrellas?"
"Son luces que llevamos
sobre nuestra cabeza".
"Nosotras no las vemos",
las hormigas comentan.
Y el caracol: "Mi vista
sólo alcanza a las hierbas."

The ant, half dead,
Says sadly:
"I saw the stars."
"What are the stars?"
The ants say, anxiously.
And the snail asks,
Pensively, "Stars?"
"Yes," repeats the ant.
"I saw the stars,
I went to the tallest tree
in the grove
and saw thousands of eyes
inside my darkness."
The snail asks:
"But, what are stars?"
"They're lights we carry
On our heads."
"We can't see them,"
the ants say.
And the snail:
"My eyes
Can't see beyond the grass."

(For the full poem, in Spanish, visit )

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Review of When Five Years Pass

Last week I had the absolute pleasure of receiving an e-mail from someone who really enjoyed my translation of Lorca 's "When Five Years Pass".

This of course was fantastic in itself - somebody liking your work (well, your interpretation of Lorca's work) is very rewarding - but it had the added value of knowing that I'm not alone in thinking this was one of Lorca's best plays.

After I replied to such nice person, she e-mailed back and told me that her 13-year-old daughter who speaks Spanish, is also a Lorca fan who impresses her Spanish teachers with her knowledge of Lorca's works for children. How absolutely fantastic.

Lorca's poems for children made it into popular culture in Spain. Indeed, I was exposed to them without ever realising it and I think the 35 year-old paperback is still in my Madrid room somewhere... It's therefore wonderful to see that they are still reaching young people, even miles away from his native Granada. His poetry will outlive Facebook, you'll see.

This book is in Spanish
I'm not going to reproduce the review here but I do invite you to go and read it on the Amazon page. It's a "proper" review, from someone who cares, who loves Lorca and who often takes the time to share her thoughts on her books.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Lorca's Grave

Following my post on 28 June 2011, you can read more on the plans to continue looking for Lorca's grave by following this link.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

A Lorca Collage

I love the internet.

Thanks to a recent comment on the first post of this blog, I have discovered this beautiful video. It's very tastefully put, with a variety of footage in it, including some of Garcia Lorca himself. I'd always imagined him arriving in towns and unloading his "barraca" and now, I got to see him doing just that, with a smile on his face. I find myself needing to share this here, in The A to Z of Spanish Culture blog and my own personal one. As with the best art, I'll just leave you to enjoy it.

Thanks to Carmen Ferreiro, as I discovered it through her own blog.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Ian Gibson and Lorca

I'm not sure he knows, but Ian Gibson's children went to the same school I did and him and is family lived in El Bosque in Madrid, just like I did.

The first time I heard about him was through my mother, who had quite a lot of respect for him. Many many years later, having exiled myself to London, I read one of his books "The Assasination of Garcia Lorca" and later watched a BBC series about Spain, which he presented and probably produced. Years later, for one of my birthdays, two of my friends gave me Lorca's biography, written by Gibson. It's the only book you need to find out everything about the poet and his work.

Gibson is obsessed with Lorca - can you blame him?

To read a recent interview with him, click here.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

El Maleficio de la Mariposa - The Butterfly's Evil Spell

This is one of Lorca's "puppet plays" and one of my favourites. I translated it once and directed it for Forbidden Theatre Company's "Script in Hand Performances', round about the year 1999. I never dared produce it as a full show. The cast is large; the language is not straightforward; the design concept needs to be incredible as the cast is made up of cockroaches and other insects. Nothing literal will do, although I can't resist the temptation to share a photo from the original production, taken from

The play is beautiful, wrapped in an innocence characteristic of Lorca's - but to an audience not used to dealing with parables and metaphors, it might look like a story for children. Far from it. 
So I take my hat off to Hip Pocket Theatre in the USA, for staging what looks, from the reviews, to be a very succesful production. (I am a little bit jealous that I didn't have the guts....)

Good luck with it from the other side of the pond. 

(I would have liked to post this earlier to raise a bit of awareness but haven't been able to.)