Frank O'Hara

Further notes on my obsession with "Some Trees"

It's a love poem but perhaps, ultimately, it's directed at someone in particular.

Perhaps John Ashbery’s “Some Trees” is a love poem for Frank O’Hara. They met at the time the poem was written, and they shared a twangy, bumpkin, non-Harvard accent. “These accents seem their own defense.” See, above, two pages from Andrew Epsteins Beautiful Enemies. You might have to enlarge the image to read it easily. See the marked block quote in the middle of p. 236.

David Shapiro

Feature in Jacket 23

David Shapiro lives surrounded by art and music. Photo by Claudio Papapietro for
David Shapiro lives surrounded by art and music. Photo by Claudio Papapietro for the Riverdale Press, copyright © Claudio Papapietro and the Riverdale Press, 2009. Used with permission.

[»»] Thomas Fink: David Shapiro’s ‘Possibilist’ Poetry
[»»]
David Shapiro (in conversation with John Tranter, 1984)
[»»]
David Shapiro: Six poems (from A Burning Interior, 2000)
     [»»] The Weak Poet
     [»»] Light Bulb

Olivier Brossard: The Last Clean Shirt

A film by Alfred Leslie and Frank O’Hara, 1964

Still from the film «The Last Clean Shirt», 1964
Still from the film «The Last Clean Shirt», 1964

Where they’ve come from. We’re not even up to 23rd Street yet. Sings a little song in middle. ‘I hate driving.’ — Frank O’Hara, ‘The Sentimental Units,’ Collected Poems, 467.

In 1964, American painter and film maker Alfred Leslie and poet Frank O’Hara completed the movie The Last Clean Shirt. It was first shown at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1964 and later that year at Lincoln Center in New York, causing an uproar among the audience. The movie shows two characters, a black man and a white woman, driving around Manhattan in a convertible car. The Last Clean Shirt is a true collaboration between a film maker and a poet since Frank O’Hara wrote the subtitles to the dialogue or rather the monologue: the woman is indeed the only character who speaks and she furthermore expresses herself in Finnish gibberish, which demanded that subtitles be added.

Olivier Brossard’s article (with stills from the movie) is 9,000 words or about twenty printed pages long. You can read it all here, in Jacket 23.

Barbara Guest

Photo: l to r: Barbara Guest, Hadley Guest
Photo: l to r: Barbara Guest, Hadley Guest

It’s good to see Jacket2 continuing to focus on the poetry of Barbara Guest, a forceful writer of uncompromisingly modern tastes.
I am pleased to say that at a reading for Carl Rakosi in San Francisco some years ago (where Carl read  his short poem “The Laboratory Rat”) I was able to meet Barbara Guest. I mentioned that Allen Ginsberg once lived on the same street as she did, in Berkeley, at the time he wrote “A Supermarket in California”.
“Well, it’s a very long avenue,” she replied sweetly. “I think Allen lived somewhere on the downtown end.”

Frank O'Hara's queer litter

Giovanni’s Room hosted Frank O’Hara’s Queer Litter yesterday, an event hosted by CA Conrad and featuring Alex Dimitrov, Paul LeGault, Zachary Pace, Adam Fitzgerald, and Andrew Durbin.

Magazines #7

Steamer 3

Image by Andrew Atchison from Steamer 2
Image by Andrew Atchison from Steamer 2

The third issue of Melbourne magazine Steamer - edited by Sam Langer - features a number of one line poems: my favourite is 'rocker' by Will Druce: 'sssssstay onlike a roa deeeeeee afterrrrthash ow'. It could be drunk, it could be the beginning of 'Cherry Bomb'. Neologisms like 'onlike', 'roa' and 'afterrrrthash' suggest a mutating rocker vernacular that gets more interrrresting the more the rocker thinks about what they're saying. 

Another poem from the issue, 'token' by Ella O'Keefe is one that knows it was written on a keyboard (as much as the hands may remember 'duck-egg formica'). It interrupts what becomes retrospective lyrical droning to jump up and want something a: 'Fresh!/Fruit!/Shake!'. Three exclamations suspended by the question of wondering ... Having energise the line and mood, new implausibilities may be murmured. We attend to mockery, then we're collaged onto a tarmac. Single quotes turn into double: a successful 'lawn-a-concept-centre' date then.

when a rooster crows

the whole body is used

& it puts you back

in your own

This could be O'Hara with clipped wings or Williams with the strength reversed to the end.

An Ellsbergian task for poets

Daniel Ellsberg performs a magic trick at Whitman College
Daniel Ellsberg performs a magic trick at Whitman College

Kaia Sand

Maybe the poets could come up with a better term than ‘whistle-blower?’ That’s what I recall Daniel Ellsberg asking.

It was the spring of 2005 in Walla Walla, Washington, when I had the luxury of a day’s conversations with Daniel Ellsberg, famed for releasing the Pentagon Papers in an effort to end the Vietnam War by revealing how high-level officials were misleading the public. Ellsberg was visiting Jules’s class and giving a lecture at Whitman College, where Jules was employed, and because Jules was employed, he was busy, and I was not so busy, and, thus… I discussed poetry with Ellsberg over green tea. He was an early publisher of Frank O’Hara’s at the Harvard Advocate, he recited lines of poetry from memory, and he urged me to read Robinson Jeffers.

Collection américaine

éditions joca seria

Parties du corps
Bill Berkson

Alice Neel paints Frank O'Hara


A 7-minute video shows dozens of Alice Neel portraits, including this one of Frank O'Hara.

An introduction to basic New York School modes

an old mini-lecture prepared for an online course

For my survey of modern & contemporary American poetry (English 88) I once (1999) made a recording of a really basic mini-lecture on three fundamental types of New York School poems: anti-narrative, non-narrative, pastiche. The whole thing is plausible enough, although obviously there are more "types" and much more to say about pastiche. Recently we converted a RealAudio file of this recording and produced a new mp3, which I've linked to "chapter 8" of the course. So here is that old talk as an mp3.

Syndicate content