Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Rereading Frank O'Hara almost newly shocked anew at just how fertile a poetic ground there is there. He is the major poet of the last 50 years I think, seriously. Without him there would be no langpo no flarf no various generations of the NY school for sure. To be sure many poets now would still be grappling with difficulities that reading Frank's poetry shatters and liberates us from completely. But one thing I've also noticed is how much his poetry bleeds into my poetry while I'm reading it. It's completely accessible and yet has every bit as a wide a vocabulary and breadth as any of the so-called Great Modernist Works. And you don't need a guidebook.

But I don't want to just imitate Frank, but then how can you not. He showed a way that was just so fucking liverating (what?) and intoxicating. I read the back of Lunch Poems and it really kind of surpised me because I've never really read any writing about O'Hara that resembles the deceptively simple explanation he himself gives for their "method".

"Often this poet, strolling through the noisy splintered glare of a Manhattan noon, has paused at a sample Olivetti to type up thirty or forty lines of ruminations, or pondering more deeply has withdrawn to a darkened ware- or firehouse to limn his computed misunderstandings of the eternal questions of life, co-existence and depth, while never forgetting to eat Lunch his favorite meal."

I especially am intrigued by his use of normally avoided words like "rumination" and "pondering" in reference to Lunch Poems, though he may not have been 100% earnest in his use of them. That and the fact of "never forgetting to eat Lunch his favorite meal..." Last night I was typing a poem called Convo and realized when the pizza I ordered arrived that I really wanted to eat it, so I finished the poem a little more quickly than I would have otherwise. I think that was part of O'Hara's method too. I mean if you're hungry then that probably affects the poem no? But anyway, there's just nothing like O'Hara. Who the fuck else, even after all the imitations and flattery, could write something like this from Poem (first line "So many echoes in my head"):

but where in all this noise
am I waiting for the clouds to be blown
away away away away away into the sun
(burp), I wouldn't want the clouds to be
burped back by that hot optimistic cliche, it
hangs always promising some nebulous
healthy reaction to our native dark

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