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Duende: Artistic Inspiration in the Presence of Death
Edward Hirsch will take as a starting point a lecture on the Dionysian spirit of art that Federico Garcia Lorca delivered in Buenos Aires in 1933: “Juego y teoria del duende” (“Play and Theory of the Duende”). Lorca uses the word duende in a special Andalusian sense, as a term for the obscure power and penetrating inspiration of art. He described it, quoting Goethe on Paganini, as “a mysterious power which everyone senses and no philosopher explains.” For him, the concept of duende was associated with the spirit of earth, with visible anquish, irrational desire, demonic enthusiasm, and a fascination with death. Duende, then, refers to artistic inspiration in the presence of death.
Edward Hirsch is the author of five books of poetry. His most recent work, How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry, explores the place of poetry in the human spirit. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Prix de Rome, a National Book Critics Circle Award, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature, and a MacArthur Fellowship (1998). He teaches poetry in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston, where he is a John and Rebecca Moores Scholar.