Thursday, July 7, 2011

Aimless Reading: The O's Part 4.2 (Frank O'Hara)

O'Hara, Frank
Standing Still and Walking in New York

This came from the Just Buffalo library before most of it got sold off a few years back.

I thought I had a lot to say about Frank O'Hara, but I am having trouble figuring out what all that might have been. When I lived in New York, I fell in love with his poetry, and through it fell in love with New York.

Or at least the idea of New York.

The one in which all of these great artists hang out together in bars and throw fabulous parties and get together to share their work and recklessly sleep together and gossip about it and write poems about the gossip and share them with the world and so on and so forth.

But then I never really found that New York. It always felt like something out of the glorious past. I found something much closer to it in Buffalo, actually, minus the metropolitan glamor, anyhow.

I associate O'Hara with my romantic attachment to Gotham, but I feel very disconnected from that romance, having now lived away from it for so long. I was surprised a few years back to read my journals from my last years there to discover how unhappy I was -- and even more surprised to discover how much of my unhappiness I blamed on the city.

Besides all the personal misery, I was always broke, never had a steady job, did not really connect with the poetry scene until right before I left town. I always felt oppressed by the literary history there, as if everything interesting had already happened and that there wasn't anybody around interested in making something new.

It made me feel cool to walk the same streets as all the celebrities and artists past and present, but ultimately I felt like it was sucking me dry and that no amount of Frank O'Hara could fix it.

I find it hard to read O'Hara now, as much as I love his poems, perhaps because I associate him so closely with that time in my life.

That's kind of depressing, isn't it? Maybe I don't get to New York enough!

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