terrible angels

Friday, June 01, 2007

frank o’hara


resources frank o’hara

biography
Frank O’Hara (1926-1966), was born in Baltimore. Maryland, but grew up in Grafton, Massachusetts. He served in the US Navy, 1944-6, and from 1946 to 1950 he attended Harvard College, where he majored in music. After graduate school at Ann Arbor, he moved in 1951 to New York, where he was employed by the Museum of Modern Art. For the rest of his life O'Hara was deeply involved in the New York art scene, particularly with the work of abstract expressionist painterssuch as Willem De Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Franz Kline. Between 1953 and 1955 he worked as editorial associate for Art News, for which his poet friends John Ashbery and James Schuyler also wrote. In 1955 he rejoined the staff of MOMA, where he was appointed assistant curator in 1960. In the early morning of 24 July 1966 he was struck and gravely injured by a beach-buggy on the beach of Fire Island, and died the following day. He is buried in Springs Cemetery on Long Island. (Oxford Companion to 20th-Century Poetry, edited by Ian Hamilton (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1994).

“I remember the first time I met Frank O’Hara. He was walking down Second Avenue. It was a cool early Spring evening but he was wearing only a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. And blue jeans. And moccasins. I remember that he seemed very sissy to me. Very theatrical. Decadent. I remember that I liked him instantly.” –Joe Brainard

lunch poems by frank o'hara
Along with his earlier volume, Meditations in an Emergency, his 1964 book Lunch Poems is considered to be his freshest and most accomplished collection. The title refers to both O'Hara's capacity to write the poems while sitting in Times Square during his lunch hour, as well as the ease in which a reader could take the pocket-sized volume along and read it during his own lunch hour. Lunch Poems includes some of the verses that made him a cult hero, including "The Day Lady Died," "Avé Maria," and "Poem (Lana Turner has Collapsed!)." The poems talk as easily about museums as movies, and are filled with the names, cultural icons, and places of 1960s New York.

poem

Lana Turner has collapsed!
I was trotting along and suddenly
it started raining and snowing
and you said it was hailing
but hailing hits you on the head
hard so it was really snowing and
raining and I was in such a hurry
to meet you but the traffic
was acting exactly like the sky
and suddenly I see a headline
LANA TURNER HAS COLLAPSED!
there is no snow in Hollywood
there is no rain in California
I have been to lots of parties
and acted perfectly disgraceful
but I never actually collapsed
oh Lana Turner we love you get up

some notes on the defining of the gay diva in “poem (lana turner has collapsed!)”
provided as a public service to those who would vote for Eve Arden over Lana Turner in a Dames & Divas Deathmatch
In this poem O'Hara uses the material of the movie star and tabloid news to explore ideas about intimacy and distance in personal relationships. He also undoes the idea of what it means to adore a Hollywood star, both deflating the ideal and re-establishing a new tragi-comic paradigm. It is, perhaps, the first poetic articulation of the "gay diva." The exasperated and forgiving (and utterly hilarious) voice is not the worshipful tone of the star-struck. Nonetheless, it is no less adoring. Instead of distant idealizing, the speaker establishes closer and more personal common ground (despite the different climates). He says “I’ve been there too” (with the caveat that he has never been quite as bad of a drama queen as to actually collapse!). As opposed to the typical movie star the gay diva is one who is "fallen but fabulous". More importantly, the "gay diva" can’t be one without the other (fabulous or fallen). The poem is also illustrating that with a gay diva the relationship between worshiper and icon is not a one-way street: each inspires the other to “get up.”

more resources for frank o'hara:

lana turner

wikipedia bio
Lana Turner (February 8, 1921 – June 29, 1995) was an Academy award-nominated American film actress. On-screen, she was well-known for the glamor and sensuality she brought to almost all her movie roles. Off-screen, she led a stormy and colorful private life which included seven husbands, numerous lovers, and a famous murder scandal.

lana turner online
"She is an actress. She is a movie star. She isn't in the least like the little girl next door. If you meet her, you wouldn't find her simple and sweet just like anybody else. You'd find her an exaggerated, unconventional, slightly mad, utterly enchanting creature unlike anybody else in the world, with plenty of brains and practically no sense at all ready to weep one minute because she forgot to say good morning to the gateman and laugh the next because she sasses the boss." -- Gladys Hall
- a hooker cut to look like lana turner is still a hooker.
- she is lana turner.
- what?
- she is lana turner.
la confidential