Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Frank O'Hara: Grace To Live Variously

"Mothers of America
let your kids go to the movies!
get them out of the house so they won't know what you're up to"

Frank O'Hara had his ear to the heart of Manhattan during its golden era of the 50s. From his post at the Museum of Modern Art's front desk he would watch the sparkle and twist of life's sweet parade, capturing the rhythms in his beatific verses.

"I am the least difficult of men. All I want is boundless love."
That's not too much to ask, is it? Frank stood against the academy and was all for going "on your nerve." Listening to him read is a wonderful experience - he's got a swing-time exuberance to his tone and in fact was an accomplished piano player.

The Lunch Poems are brilliant little morsels, street eats caught on the run between the subway and desk or on the way to the library from the gallery's cafe. If they were an album it would be Richard Hell & The Voidoids' "Blank Generation."

"Now when I walk around at lunchtime
I have only two charms in my pocket
an old Roman coin Mike Kanemitsu gave me
and a bolt-head that broke off a packing case
when I was in Madrid the others never
brought me too much luck though they did
help keep me in New York against coercion
but now I'm happy for a time and interested"

- from Personal Poem

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