By Bianca Viňas
Three hot cocoas, two coffees and an oolong tea, each one clutched by hands accustomed to ink stains and clacking keyboards. There was a table of writers waiting for a performance that could only be described as “melodic stanzas on stage,” or “poesía viva” (poetry alive). It was the fifth evening of PoemCity here in Montpelier and creatives from all over the community had gathered to listen to Los Lorcas, a band of performers reincarnating the wonder and awe of the legendary poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca. This event was held at Vermont College of Fine Arts’ Café Anna, a writers corner known to many for its warm energy and choice maple lattés.
Poet Partridge Boswell took the small stage and gave a nod to his fellow band members, guitarist Nat Williams and lyricist Peter Money. Recipient of this year’s Edna St. Vincent Millay and Red Wheelbarrow Poetry Prizes, Partridge Boswell is the author of Some Far Country, winner of the Grolier Poetry Prize. Boswell is also co-founder to Bookstock: The Green Mountain Festival of Words, as well as a truly gifted musician and songwriter. Before counting to three in a tongue much reminiscent of the titular poet Lorca’s homeland, Fuente Vaqueros (Spain), Boswell asked the audience to pause and marvel at the month long celebration that is PoemCity 2018, joking that “love only gets one day (Valentine’s Day)… us, a whole month.”
The first song brought the Café to a thoughtful and resonant silence, an Andalusian serenade inspired by Lorca’s original poetry. It was followed by a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne, a song that captured the attention of the audience. The people sitting at my table, in a section of the Café facing the college’s frozen basketball court, was taken with the next performance, a melodious version of W.B. Yeats The Lake Isle of Innisfree. The rest of the audience was taken by an indie folk eulogy to Evil Knievel.
Of all the songs dedicated, none were more passionately unified in their inspiration than the original ballads that followed. Produced by the band and performed by Peter Money,
these songs represented storytelling and an emotional lyricism that could only be reckoned by all three artists and their individual attention to performance: Boswell’s ocean-like vowel intonation, Williams’ calm out-stare to certain integral notes and Money’s sing-song of dramatized poetry.
Peter Money is both a recognized poet (author of American Drone: New and Selected Poems, 2013) and editor of Harbor Mountain Press, a not-for-profit publishing house, with more than twenty five publications of poetry. Money is a performer of song and word that is said to have the “chops of range” (Paris Review). This was much recognized by the audience and writers that stared up at him. Money showed an almost eerie connection to the physical and vocal performance of his poetry, animating not only his hands and facial expressions, but the impression he makes on the stage beside him; it was a performance all on its own… one of shadow dancing.
Los Lorcas in unity is a marvel that would silence any creative individual to awe, inspiring the quietest observer to reach for each word if they were Federico Lorca himself, meditating on song and poetry mid-stage, arms outstretched.
Hear Los Lorcas play their poetry.