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 Epstein’s Beautiful Enemies. You might have to enlarge the image to read it easily. See the marked block quote in the middle of p. 236.
[»»] 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
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.