Saturday, September 07, 2013

Winged cloud

I got lucky this morning, took a bunch of pictures of the sun coming up. Then I used an iPhone app called Autostitch to blend them into one big view. (A single click on the picture will enlarge it -- in this case, it is worth doing. WHINE: the pictures on Blogger are too small . . .) One is supposed to crop the result back into a rectangular photo-shape, but I LOVE it this way! It reminds me of an angel, as in Messiah, "At the last trummm-pet!" I think it would have looked just fine painted on a Renaissance ceiling.

As it happens, tonight's poem is also about art. It is from the first edition of the book, Postmodern American Poetry; a Norton Anthology edited by Paul Hoover, which has more good stuff in it than you might guess from the title. About 40 years of unstuffy poetry from the likes of Kerouac, Denise Levertov, Ginsberg, John Cage, Leslie Scalapino, Hilda Morley and so forth. Mine is the older edition, but a revised one has just been released and well-reviewed.

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" he
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  (1971) pages 129-130 of.Postmodern American Poetry  Norton, 1994.

I would like to call attention to the way the lines end and begin in this poem. Read it out loud and make a conscious pause at the end of each line, Feel the little jolt as the new line is sort of torn loose from the previous line, separating words that--were the prose version broken into sense-chunks--would remain together. A phrase like, "I am thinking of a color" gains energy somehow by being interrupted in this way. This strategy is used throughout this poem,

"All that's left is just

The word letters gets that little extra JOLT from the linebreak here. And so on. (When I talk like this in the blog, I  am talking to myself as much as to you, fellow poet and friend.) I think the study of poetry is terribly, terribly interesting.

Sleep well, and try to catch tomorrow's sunrise, wherever you find yourself.

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