Thursday, February 25, 2010

Aimless Reading: Literary Magazines, Part 3 (New World Writing v.15)

New World Writing
Volume 15, 1959


Found in a bargain bin and purchased for 50 cents at 7th Street Books in New York City, probably in 1996.

At this time, as happens to many a poet living in New York, I became obsessed with Frank O'Hara. After reading Brad Gooch's biography, I used to wander around the East Village and environs looking for the various places in which O'Hara used to live or hang out or on other days certain spots in the city that he mentions in his poems.

One day I was searching through the bins at seventh street books and saw this "ugly" copy of "NEW WORLD WRITING" that had a feature about the Poets of Ghana on the cover – I suddenly realized I was IN a Frank O'Hara poem! Now all I had to do was find the Five Spot and go see Billy Holiday perform.

I used to imagine that maybe this was his copy, my evidence of this being the fact that in the back of the magazine there is a list of literary magazines of the time, next to which there are check marks written in pencil, possibly, I imagined, written by a poet who may have been making a note of places where he should send his work, or shouldn't, or which he should remember to read in order to keep up on the latest in the poetry world.

Anyhow:

The Day Lady Died

It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don’t know the people who will feed me

I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
and have a hamburger and a malted and buy
an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets
in Ghana are doing these days
                                        I go on to the bank
and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)
doesn’t even look up my balance for once in her life
and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine
for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do
think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or
Brendan Behan’s new play or Le Balcon or Les Nègres
of Genet, but I don’t, I stick with Verlaine
after practically going to sleep with quandariness

and for Mike I just stroll into the PARK LANE
Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega and
then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue
and the tobacconist in the Ziegfeld Theatre and
casually ask for a carton of Gauloises and a carton
of Picayunes, and a NEW YORK POST with her face on it

and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing

3 comments:

Carl said...

That's a wonderful physical annotation to the O'Hara poem. I see you have the Hesiod as well.

You don't happen to have the issue of National Geographic from 1918 from the Elizabeth Bishop poem "In the Waiting Room", do you? She says the February issue but I read somewhere it's actually the March issue. She changed it because she was born in February.

Anyway. I enjoy your blog.

Michael Kelleher, Buffalo, NY said...

Thanks, Carl -- glad you enjoy the blog. That National Geographic would be a great object to have in one's library!

ekroczek said...

Thanks for the image of NWW from June 1959. It appears to be the only such image available on the web. Oddly pleased to see that the cover is, as O'Hara wrote (and David Lehman averred), ugly. All best, and keep up the good work with tracking down the rare magazines!