Frank O’Hara

Yesterday I walked into the wrong bookstore when I was looking for a book on PHP and right […]

Yesterday I walked into the wrong bookstore when I was looking for a book on PHP and right there in front of me was a collection of Frank O’Hara poems. It’s rare, trust me. He didn’t write much.

It opens with the wonderful Personism, a manifesto which has many extraordinary moments including this on writing

“You just go on your nerve. If someone’s chasing you down the street with a knife you just run, you don’t turn around and shout, “Give it up! I was a track star for Mineola Prep.” ”

which jibes with me.

Anyhow, I give you a poem from this book

Why I am Not A Painter

I am not a painter, I am a poet.
Why? I think I would rather be
a painter, but I am not. Well,
for instance, Mike Goldberg
is starting a painting. I drop in.
“Sit down and have a drink” be
says. I drink; we drink. I look
up. “You have SARDINES in it.”
“Yes, it needed something there.”

“Oh.” I go and the days go by
and I drop in again. The painting
is going on, and I go, and the days
go by. I drop in. The painting is
finished. “Where’s SARDINES?”
All that’s left is just
letters, “It was too much,” Mike says.

But me? One day I am thinking of
a color: orange. I write a line
about orange. Pretty soon it is a
whole page of words, not lines.
Then another page. There should be
so much more, not of orange, of
words, of how terrible orange is
and life. Days go by. It is even in
prose, I am a real poet. My poem
is finished and I haven’t mentioned
orange yet. It’s twelve poems, I call
it ORANGES. And one day in a gallery
I see Mike’s painting, called SARDINES.

Frank O’Hara


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  1. 2
    Melissa Bradley

    I just read this and cracked up:

    As for measure and other technical apparatus, that’s just common sense: if you’re going to buy a pair of pants you want them to be tight enough so everyone will want to go to bed with you. There’s nothing metaphysical about it. Unless of course, you flatter yourself into thinking that what You’re experiencing is “yearning.”

  2. 5

    I don’t know you but I was searching Frank O’Hara and found your blog. If you like him, read To You.
    “That is what we like about art. It seems to prefer us and stay”

  3. 6

    You should read his Fortune Cookies poem, talk about abstract, I just stumbled on this site while doing a report, but I love Frank O’Hara now!

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