5/21/2017: Soon I will be in Buenos Aires, my father’s childhood city, and one in which I will share my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, at Kel Ediciones in Belgrano, Buenos Aires, on May 26, 5:30p.m. What an honor! I will take time off of my regular blog for a few weeks, but please share news of this event with friends in Buenos Aires who may be inspired to share a moment with my novel, Flamenco guitar, and DUENDE, a word brought alive in this port city by a great Spanish Poet Federico GarciaLorca more than 80 years ago.
Here’s a little excerpt of my talk to Flamenco Guitar:
“It was October of 1933 when a large Italian Passenger Liner landed here, in the Port of Buenos Aires. That day, one of the most important Generation of ’27 Spanish poets—Federico Garcia Lorca—arrived in Buenos Aires, where he fell in love with its streets and people and remained for six months…much longer than he had planned.
Federico Garcia Lorca was no ordinary poet. He was one from Granada, from Southern Spain, where the Gypsy culture, Flamenco dance and music, and the spirit of the land would forever claim him—that is, until he was killed by Spain’s fascists in 1936. Lorca knew, unlike many artists, what it meant to truly be creative, to instantaneously confront both the present and death itself rather than to be tied to the musings of the past.”
So when he came to Buenos Aires to premiere his play, Blood Wedding, he also offered an unforgettable speech, The Play and Theory of the Duende, that would forever leave its imprint on the world… and, years later, would inspire my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, which I bring to you today. I come here from New Mexico to walk these streets that Garcia Lorca once walked, and that my father, Alberto Adam, also traversed as an adult and child growing up in Buenos Aires. I honor both men today, as I bring to you my story, my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, and “duende,” this essence that Lorca carried with him from Spain 84 years ago.”
In Lorca’s speech, he said, “In Andalucía (Southern Spain), the people constantly talk of the duende,” explaining that all that has black sounds has duende, since these black sounds are the mystery, the roots fastened in the mire that we all know and all ignore, the fertile silt that gives us the very substance of art. He went on to describe a guitarist as saying that “The duende is not in the throat: the duende surges up, inside, from the soles of the feet.” Meaning, it’s not a question of skill, but of a style that’s truly alive: meaning, it’s in the veins: meaning, it’s of the most ancient culture of immediate creation.”
“Duende”, Lorca added, is a “mysterious force that everyone feels and no philosopher has explained” that is “in sum, the spirit of the earth.”… the spirit of the earth, which, in moving through every limb of our being, unencumbered and raw, produces an almost religious enthusiasm. It’s that spirit that an artist embodies when singing so profoundly and truthfully, with clear channel, that we are left with goose bumps, and sighs. Unlike the muse and angel, this spirit must come from within, and must be “awakened in the remotest mansions of the blood,” and ONLY once having done so, then, “announces the constant baptism of newly created things.”
The duende is what we hear in the llanto, the cry out, el cante hondo, the deep song of Flamenco, which has remained with us during our brief, but intense human history. Just travel along the threads of an ancient Gypsy culture to experience this. These nomadic, song-wielding, magic-making people, who arrived in Spain from India, still carry the essence of song they brought with them from the orient, of the Ragas, of indigenous chanting, a kind of prayer that keeps that sweet dialogue between the unseen and seen world alive, honoring the holy and sacred part of being human.”
This song of Gypsy wove its fabric into Spain’s Arabic, Jewish, and Catholic roots—even as Fernando and Isabel of Spain set out to explore the Americas and enacted the Inquisition, which kicked out, killed, and tortured Jews, Arab, Gypsies, and non-Christians in Spain. Many Gypsies fled to the mountains, and it was here that they kept their traditions alive. Maybe—as with the negro spirituals, the Blues, and Native American chants, and so many deeply soulful songs—it is this very persecution, these dark times, that help create this ancient sound of longing that rises more fiercely and fully from the depths of our being than ever before, and reminds of our most profound connections.”
Can you hear the depth of this LLANTO, this “song of the earth,” this most life-affirming voice of the soul that never quits? Maybe if you listen closely, you can, as you also hear the poet’s voice… carrying a plaintive solitary cry belonging to an Andalusian Soul …of Gypsy, Arab and Jew…of indigenous roots untangling, struggling to surface to engage in the most challenging, yet rich work of our life—that of fully inhabiting ourselves.”
Please join me this May 26 at 5:30p.m. in Buenos Aires (and if you can’t make it, please let friends who can come know) to celebrate storytelling, Flamenco guitar, Garcia Lorca, and my father, Alberto Adam. It’s at Kel Ediciones, Conde 1990, 1428 , Buenos Aires, Belgrano, 54 11 4555 4005, kelediciones.com, a top carrier of books in English in Buenos Aires.
My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is also available on Amazon at Amazon Page or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video