Sunday, June 29, 2008

It is HOT! Dean and I stopped by our local espresso place for a refreshing midday iced beverage (comes w/ free air conditioning). We were reading the Sunday NY Times. A great review of the new Selected O'Hara by William Logan. I think he is pretty balanced in his assessment: he sees the genius, but also the mediocrity, of some of the poems. There are some great lines about O'Hara, his New York, gay life, his poetic method (or lack thereof). I think it is wonderful that the best of O'Hara's work only seems to improve with time. And I love this section:


He began to make poetry from whatever happened around him — today, he might have written a blog (italics mine). At the time, however, this preoccupation with the trivial, with the nothing of life that is nothing, seemed to jettison everything — meter, the calculated symbol, the grave poetic tone — associated with the manners of the art. However much one loves “Four Quartets” or “Lord Weary’s Castle,” it’s refreshing to open O’Hara and read:

LeRoi comes in
and tells me Miles Davis was clubbed 12
times last night outside BIRDLAND by a cop
a lady asks us for a nickel for a terrible
disease but we don’t give her one we
don’t like terrible diseases, then
we go eat some fish and some ale it’s
cool but crowded we don’t like Lionel Trilling
we decide, we like Don Allen we don’t like
Henry James so much we like Herman Melville
we don’t want to be in the poets’ walk in
San Francisco even we just want to be rich.

The headlong style, the lines broken like breadsticks, the punctuation limping along or missing entirely, capture the city’s rush and welter, though O’Hara’s physical world is curiously impoverished. Every poem seems to start from scratch. The back cover of “Lunch Poems” claimed that frequently O’Hara, “strolling through the noisy splintered glare of a Manhattan noon, has paused at a sample Olivetti to type up 30 or 40 lines of ruminations.”


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Tonight I am making lamb kabobs marinated in yogurt oregano cumin and coriander (see recipe from last year here) and Dean and I are going to sit out on the back patio in the shade and sip gin fizzes and/or pear ginger martinis and do a crossword or read some poems and watch the tomatoes grow and pick some fresh lettuce and toss it with Dean's dressing and goat cheese and pine nuts and try not to feed or to squirt the neighborhood cat that always comes by.

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3 comments:

Jilly said...

Did Logan infer that, because of the tone of O'Hara's poetry, O'Hara did not take poetry seriously?

Or did I misread the review at that point?

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Hi Jilly:
Hmmm . . . I had more of a paradoxical sense, that (according to Logan, and I'm paraphrasing here) O'Hara believed Poetry was too important to be taken too seriously. And I like that idea.

Collin said...

I thought it was another typical backhanded review by Logan. I just can't stand him.