in search of duende

“Manuel Torre, great artist of the Andalusian people, once told a singer, "You have a voice, you know the styles, but you will never triumph, because you have no duende.”

All over Andalusia, from the rock of Jaen to the whorled shell of Cadiz, the people speak constantly of “duende,” and identify it accurately and instinctively whenever it appears…Manuel Torre, who had more culture in the blood than any man I ever met, pronounced this splendid sentence on hearing Falla play his own Nocturno del generalife: “All that has black sounds has duende.” And there is no greater truth.

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.“

-Federico Garcia Lorca, "In Search of Duende”
Duende District Bookstore Mobile Pop-Up!
Duende District's mission is to empower people of color and create a high-quality, welcoming bookstore experience for all to enjoy!

About this project

Duende District: Creating a New Intersectional Bookstore Experience

I’m Angela Maria Spring, the founder and owner of Duende District. I’m the proud daughter and granddaughter of Central and Latin American immigrants and a veteran bookseller. Sixteen years of working in both corporate and indie bookstores from one end of the country to the other has showed me that our communities, especially in D.C., have a deep need for an authentic general bookstore space built from the ground up by bookstore professionals who are people of color – but where all people are genuinely welcome.

I left my job as a manager at Politics & Prose in November to start Duende District, with a mission to continually cultivate relationships and start conversations with books, gifts, events, and displays, all curated and planned by people of color,

Duende District will be a bookstore that consciously embraces and builds interactive partnerships with D.C.’s minority communities, while also inviting everyone to enjoy an inviting, high-quality bookstore experience.

Duende District’s Mobile Pop-Up: Building a Bookstore On the Go 

 In late February, I was offered the unique opportunity to assemble the pieces of Duende District’s first pop-up retail venture this spring, located in the Artomatic 2017 festival.As an “entrepreneurial literature startup incubated within Artomatic 2017,” the pop-up will carry a small original inventory of fiction, poetry, non-fiction, art books, graphic novels and children’s picture books. The pop-up space also allows me to plan a series of interactive experiences with local artists, writers and community organizations to spread awareness of Duende District’s mission and to begin its search for a permanent home in Washington, D.C.

It was my pleasure to be part of funding this cool initiative. Those of you in the DC area, please keep your eye on this cool pop-up so they can grow into a permanent home. 

Lorca writes: “The duende, then, is a power, not a work. It is a struggle, not a thought. I have heard an old maestro of the guitar say, ‘The duende is not in the throat; the duende climbs up inside you, from the soles of the feet.’ Meaning this: it is not a question of ability, but of true, living style, of blood, of the most ancient culture, of spontaneous creation.”. He suggests, “everything that has black sounds in it, has duende. [i.e. emotional 'darkness’] […] This 'mysterious power which everyone senses and no philosopher explains’ is, in sum, the spirit of the earth, the same duende that scorched the heart of Nietzsche, who searched in vain for its external forms on the Rialto Bridge and in the music of Bizet, without knowing that the duende he was pursuing had leaped straight from the Greek mysteries to the dancers of Cadiz or the beheaded, Dionysian scream of Silverio’s siguiriya.” […] “The duende’s arrival always means a radical change in forms. It brings to old planes unknown feelings of freshness, with the quality of something newly created, like a miracle, and it produces an almost religious enthusiasm.” […] “All arts are capable of duende, but where it finds greatest range, naturally, is in music, dance, and spoken poetry, for these arts require a living body to interpret them, being forms that are born, die, and open their contours against an exact present.”
—  from In Search of Duende, edited by Christopher Maurer