Why I am Not a Painter and Other PoemsPaperback
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- Publisher: Carcanet Press Ltd
- Format: Paperback | 96 pages
- Dimensions: 135mm x 216mm x 8mm | 151g
- Publication date: 28 April 2003
- Publication City/Country: Manchester
- ISBN 10: 1857546881
- ISBN 13: 9781857546880
- Sales rank: 509,250
Frank O'Hara (1926-66) composed poems 'any time, any place', collaborating with and inspired by a circle of artists, musicians and poets, immersed in the creative life of New York. For O'Hara, the city was a place of possibility, both disorientating and exciting, and his poems have an immediacy that draws its energies from the pace and rhythms of city life, and from the contemporary artforms of jazz, film and painting. It is this openness to experience that makes O'Hara an indispensable poet of the imaginative experience of the modern city. Reviewing this new selection in the Guardian, Charles Bainbridge wrote: 'Frank O'Hara is a wonderful poet - funny, moving, chatty, engaging, enthusiastic, risk-taking, elegiac, supremely urban - and anything that encourages people to read him is a good thing. His poems have a disarming intimacy, a kind spontaneous enthusiasm and his work proves, with tremendous elan and energy, that you don't have to adopt a solemn tone in order to write poetry of seriousness and purpose. As O'Hara himself says of the nature of writing in the brilliantly comic "Personism: A Manifesto": "You just go on your nerve. If someone's chasing you down the street with a knife you just run, you don't turn around and shout, 'Give it up! I was a track star for Mineola Prep'." '
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Born in Maryland in 1926, Frank O'Hara studied first music, then English, at Harvard, publishing his first book of poems in 1952. He worked at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, edited Art News, wrote extensively on painting, and pursued his interest in theatre. He died in 1966. Most of his poetry, collected by Donald Allen, appeared posthumously.
By Mark Thwaite 10 Dec 2008
Mark Ford's useful introduction to his selection ofÃ???Ã??Ã?Â this "nearly Beat" describes John O'Hara's often hastily penned work as "immediate, nervously alert, mercurial". This gets O'Hara down pretty well. Ford echoes the poet John Ashberry in half-admitting that the power of O'Hara's arguably sometimes quite slight work (what Ashberry called an "unrevised work-in-progress") tends to arise cumulatively. This is neither the serious (and often quite dry) poetry so beloved by the American New Critics and nor was O'Hara actually fully part of the Ginsberg crowd. If any collective could be said to contain O'Hara it was the so-called New York School (a term coined by gallery owner John Bernard Myers).
Although lighter in weight than some might find palatable, O'Hara himself saw his work as part of a valid artistic tradition against the mainstream.Ã???Ã??Ã?Â "I dress in oil cloth and read music / by Guillaume Apollinaire's clay candelabra" and we sense that O'Hara is doing a lot more than simply name-dropping. Other artists - especially visual artists as the title poem shows - were an important source of inspiration for O'Hara. And it is obvious that for O'Hara the Abstract Expressionists served as example and inspiration: Memorial Day 1950, paean as it is to many greats (including Gertrude Stein, Max Ernst, Paul Klee, Boris Pasternak), starts by reminding us that art - and inspiration via art - is not separable from the real: "Picasso made me tough and quick" he says, "and the world." And the world, the real, is never far away in these poems. Poetry, says O'Hara, "is as useful as a machine!"