Saturday, December 12, 2009

Frank O'Hara... continued


Here, O'Hara is talking about something that will revolutionize the way people think about literature. The idea that the poem is just a vessel that gets the message to the reader--he wants to communicate directly with the person, the poem itself doesn't matter. The poem is a "Lucky Pierre" because it is being gratified both by the poet--the act of being written--and the reader--the act of being read. If O'Hara were to have his way, all he has to do is to convey his message is to call up the person on his phone. The idea that the poem is just like a phone conversation with the reader, gives the poem a fresh and unpretentious voice. He isn't concerned with trying to improve the readers--or society's--life. O'Hara says: "improvement for what, death?" His idea that there is no such thing as progress is not really nihilistic, I think it's more realistic.

The Day Lady Died:

O'Hara's poem is specific of a time and a place, it evokes the feeling O'Hara felt the day that Billy Holiday died, and is revelatory of the cultural impact of Billy Holiday on his peers. The poem is a laundry list of things one might do on a typical and busy summer day in New York. It has a certain air of mundaneity, a day filled with art and people and writing and other minutiae.

The day is filled with words, words, and more words. When the news of Billy Holiday suddenly hits, it is breathless. O'Hara takes us to the day when he first heard "Lady" sing, and there are no words to describe it. His feeling of speechlessness is beautifully conveyed as O'Hara is "leaning on the john door in the 5 spot/while she whispered a song along the keyboard/to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing". We feel exactly what he means.

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