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'Things do not connect; they correspond': Epistolarity and translation in Jack Spicer's After Lorca

posted on 2023-06-08, 10:17 authored by David Hull
The letters to Federico García Lorca in Jack Spicer’s After Lorca—a collection of creative translations and imitations of Lorca’s work—provide space for Spicer’s discussion, however obfuscatory, of his poetic practice. The book’s introduction, ostensibly written posthumously by Lorca, describes them as the letters ‘one poet writes to another not in any effort to communicate with him, but rather as a young man whispers his secrets to a scarecrow, knowing that his young lady is in the distance listening. . . . The reader, who is not a party to this singular tryst, may be amused by what he overhears’. Spicer’s project exploits fundamental affinities between translation and epistle. As textual mediations whose ideal is always unattainable, these two forms embody the conditions of a language severed from its referent. We might imagine a letter being sent to a physical person but addressed (interpellated) to a phantom constructed by the writer. Spicer anticipates this impasse, sending his letters straight to a phantom; it is the group of poets—to whom Spicer variously dedicates the individual translations—who are the real readers. This ‘overhearing’ represents an attempt to construct a poetic community, prising open the linear mediatory model of epistle and translation.


Publication status

  • Published

Presentation Type

  • paper

Event name

Picture This: Letters and Postcards Beyond Text

Event location

University of Sussex

Event type


Event date

March 24, 2011 – March 26, 2011

Department affiliated with

  • American Studies Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


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