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Posts Tagged ‘Frank O’Hara’

All A-Twitter

March 5, 2013 | by

36982-424x283-Rose_and_penOne-hundred-forty-character poets, channel you inner Bashō, O’Hara, and Williams and listen up! Immortality can be yours: the New York Public Library is sponsoring a Twitter poetry contest for National Poetry Month!

Here’s the (slightly Byzantine) deal:

  • Be American and over thirteen.
  • Register.
  • Follow @NYPL.
  • “Submit three poetic tweets in English as public posts on your Twitter stream between March 1 and 10, 2013. Three poetic tweets constitute one entry and each poem must contain the @NYPL Twitter handle.”
  • “Two of the poems can cover any topic you choose, but at least one of the three poems needs to be about libraries, books, reading, or New York City.”

The panel of distinguished judges will be looking for “originality, creativity, and artistic quality.” Winners will be highlighted on all the NYPL social networks and stand to claim a passel of truly excellent poetry books. (Plus the aforementioned glory.)

 

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Walking While Reading

May 11, 2012 | by

I’ve been reading a few things lately on the subject of walking, including treatments philosophical (Rousseau’s Reveries of the Solitary Walker, Thoreau’s “Walking”), narrative (Walser’s The Walk, new from New Directions next month), and poetic (O’Hara’s Lunch Poems and some Wordsworth). I’m thinking of writing an essay on the subject and noting that my list so far consists of only dead men. Can you recommend any writers who are female and/or living who have written about walking?

Rebecca Solnit is female and very much alive. You should start with her Wanderlust: A History of Walking. And if city walking interests you—or the subject of walking with one’s mother—you will want to read Vivian Gornick’s modern classic, Fierce Attachments.

As it happens, I’m in the middle of a brand new book about walking: The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot, by Robert MacFarlane. I keep saving it for bed to make it last. The American edition won’t be out until October, but the British edition comes out early next month; if you can possibly wait for it, I would. You will want to read MacFarlane, above all for the wealth of his references, but also for the unabashed, Norsey music of his prose:

I’ve read them all, these old-way wanderers, and often I've encountered versions of the same beguiling idea: that walking such paths might lead you–in Hudson’s phrase–to “slip back out of this modern world.” Repeatedly, these wanderers spoke of the tingle of connection, of walking as seance, of voices heard along the way. Bashō is said to have told a student that while wandering north he often spoke with long-dead poets of the past, including his twelfth-century forbear Saigyo: he therefore came to imagine his travels as conversations between “a ghost and a ghost-to-be.”

With so much to read out there—and more being published all the time—how do you find the time to get through it all?

Please don’t quote my actual name.

Dear “Stefan” (not his actual name),

You’re mixing me up with Kurt Andersen—and I have no idea how he gets through it all. I get through almost none of it. It just sits there on my desk and table and shelves, glowering, until our interns box it up and take it to the Strand.

But the nice thing about books is that they don’t go anywhere. The good ones keep.

Have a question for the editors of The Paris Review? E-mail us.

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Staff Picks: Whither the Library, Mafia Men

March 23, 2012 | by

Like many editors and critics, I depend on the New York Public Library because it has the books I need when I need them—whether it’s an obscure edition of Les Fleurs du Mal or a monograph on Mary Lamb—and because it is one of the few places in New York where anyone can work in peace and quiet, and with free help from experts in their fields. Now there are plans to overhaul this unique institution and tear out seven floors of stacks. Scott Sherman and Caleb Crain make me wonder why.  —Lorin Stein

“The Mafia is the consciousness of one’s own being, the exaggerated concept of one’s individual strength, the only arbiter of every conflict of interests or ideas.” So wrote Giuseppe Pitrè, a nineteenth-century scholar of Italian folklore, and so opens Cosa Nostra: An Illustrated History of the Mafia, which landed on my desk this week. It’s strewn with more bars, cops, and bloody corpses than the best crime movie. —Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn

The Keith Haring show just opened at the Brooklyn Museum, and though I haven’t made it out there yet, I’ve been following the museum’s Tumblr blog featuring selections from Haring’s journals. They’re putting up a page each day, and most so far are from the early seventies, when he was a teenager, but some of the site’s earliest posts show Haring playing around with ciphers and visual repetitions—hints of what is to come. —Nicole Rudick

Ron Padgett and John Ashbery discuss the life and work of Frank O’Hara in this recent conversation at Harvard. The bittersweet reminiscences include O’Hara’s introduction to Larry Rivers at a party. To hear Ashbery tell it, it wasn’t long till they were canoodling behind a window drape. —Josh Anderson

I was recently blown away by Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry’s famous account of a day in the life of a British Consul suffering from latest-of-late, DT-stage alcoholism. The Consul, one Geoffery Firmin, has reached that fatal apex of the disease in which reality splinters into an inscrutable funhouse, and the quotidian becomes demonic. The vivid depiction makes a sad kind of sense, for in many ways it was a porthole into the late Lowry’s own troubled mind. (Although it must be noted that Volcano’s tragic star is also totally hilarious.) Even if you haven’t read Lowry’s work, you can watch the entire 1972 Oscar-nominated documentary about his life here for free. It is truly fascinating. —Allison Bulger Read More »

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Salter’s Armory

March 14, 2012 | by

James Salter, Robert Rauschenberg, 1963, black-and-white photograph, 16 x 20 inches.

If you are neither looking to buy art nor quite understand the glut of it before you, what do you do at the Armory Show? To an ill-informed visitor, it’s like being at the Louvre, but without the benefit of history to fall back on. The show’s aesthetic labyrinth is thus the source of a certain amount of bafflement. I dealt with this quandary partly by writing down what it was I happened to see and enjoy, as though to come back to it later: Ai Weiwei’s porcelain owl houses; some distorted nudes by the photographer André Kertesz; a series of vegetables in gelatin-silver prints by Charles Jones; the Turkish artist Irfan Onurmen’s tulle portraits; totem poles by Charlie Roberts; a photograph, called L’Oiseau dans l’Espace, by Brancusi.

I arrived late on the last day of the show and spent the first twenty minutes of my visit searching for the press office (ah, the other pier), explaining why I did not possess any sort of business card, failing to locate the down escalator and descending alone in an elevator twice the size of my kitchen. I eavesdropped on a couple trying to decide if they could afford two seventeen-thounsand-dollar Weegee prints, agreeing they had space in their home. Then a young man told his friend just how badly he wanted to fuck someone’s sister (“so bad”). Next to the champagne bar, beneath a huge neon sign reading scandinavian pain, I allowed a kind Norwegian to apply a temporary tattoo to the underside of my wrist with a damp paper towel. I was surprised at how intimate this was—he might have been taking my pulse.

“You see,” he said, “most of what this is about is the fact of making it happen at all.”

Almost by chance I found the booth for “As They Were: American Masters Through the Lens of James Salter,” a combined effort by Loretta Howard and Nyehaus galleries, showcasing some of James Salter’s films and photographs taken between 1962 and ’63 while he had a studio in Peek Slip. In the event you don’t know who Salter is, the curators have obliged by providing a few old editions of his books in a glass case, along with the script for his film Downhill Racer next to a bluish spiral of canistered film sitting atop the receipts from its printers. There is a photo of the bearded Salter, standing behind his camera in a field, and another of the author as an old man, being greeted by Robert Redford. So, you see: legit. Read More »

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Frank O’Hara’s “To the Harbormaster”

December 15, 2011 | by

Lately I’ve been thinking about Frank O’Hara and his sometimes terrible taste in men. I can’t help but see the painter Larry Rivers as a thoroughly undeserving recipient for one of my favorite poems, O’Hara’s “To the Harbormaster.” The pair’s messy entanglement started (inevitably) at a party, with a drunken kiss and grope behind a curtain. The two were hidden, but O'Hara was wearing his trademark white tennis shoes, and the two pairs of shoes, his and Rivers’s, were in full view of the heaving room. O’Hara’s letters to Rivers maintain that he could take him or leave him, but, like those trainers peeping out from underneath the curtain, the poems rather give the game away.

Rivers’s involvement with O’Hara was against his better judgement, and in his autobiography he claims never to have had full sex with a man, a fact that partly explains the poem’s fixation with impossibility and insurmountable distance. Read More »

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Staff Picks: Sleepless in a Sleeper, Murdered Beavers

October 1, 2010 | by

I have been reading Richard Holmes’s Footsteps. If you're ever sleepless on a sleeper train at two o’clock in the morning crossing southern Illinois (or shunning breakfast conversation in the diner six hours later), I recommend it. —Lorin Stein

George Saunders’s masterful short story “Commcomm” in The New Yorker. An acidic workplace satire that somehow free-falls into a Christian redemption myth. Plus, it features one of fiction’s most memorable headlines: MURDERED BEAVERS SPEAK OF AIR FORCE CRUELTY. —Kate Waldman

I reread Mrs. Dalloway last Sunday. Kept coming back to parts of it all week, underlying here, circling there. This line sticks out to me today: “For in marriage a little license, a little independence there must be between people living together day in day out in the same house ...” —Thessaly La Force

After seeing a selection of Stones, the late-fifties lithographic collaboration between Larry Rivers and Frank O’Hara, in a sneak preview of MoMA’s new “Abstract Expressionist New York” exhibition, I’ve been perusing my much-thumbed copy of O’Hara’s Collected Poems and the wonderful In Memory of My Feelings, a collection of poem-paintings (originally created in 1967) that pairs O’Hara’s verse with works of art by more than two dozen of his contemporaries. O’Hara worked as a staff member and curator at the Museum of Modern Art during much of the fifties and early sixties, when many of the works in this show were being created. It’s perfect that his art is there among them. —Nicole Rudick

In lower moments, I have also been relishing David Rakoff’s essay collection Half Empty. Tough, suave, dry, and very funny. —L. S.

This week, two articles have been helping me think through the dreary and troubling sameness at the core of today’s “diverse,” “multicultural” literary community: Tim Parks’s cogent piece in The New York Review of Books and Evert Cilliers’s flawed but stimulating polemic at 3quarksdaily. —Mark de Silva

I revisited Elaine Scarry's The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World, which explores the repercussions of pain's inexpressibility. It dredged up memories of emergency-room visits past, when the doctor entreats you to describe your pain on a scale of one to ten. “A three?” I would say, unconvincingly. As Scarry points out, pain (sadly) can only be expressed by its agents— the hammer, the burning flame, the wrenching wrench. —Alexandra Zukerman

My friend gave me When You Reach Me because the main character and I have the same first name, but that's by no means the only reason to read this excellent novel. Sure, it's a children’s book, but its themes—the fumbling processes by which we attempt to assert independence; the challenges of expressing affection; that moment when you begin to understand how things work—remain resonant. Bonus: It's also about time travel, and the chapters are very short—perfect for brief subway rides and five-minute waits. —Miranda Popkey

Hurry! The Naipauls are coming to dinner. —David Wallace-Wells

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