Thursday, April 03, 2008

In the Penny Press!

A wholly remarkable thing in the Penny Press this week: a fair and even intelligent assessment of great American poet Frank O'Hara.

He wanted boy-flesh, and he had a taste for heavily-salted canned soups, and he was always short of ready cash, and he had a high-pitched voice, and he was never, ever boring - and in addition to all those things (which in their own right would have made him an indelible memory to those lucky enough to know him), he did the one thing more you need to do to insure that citizens of the Empire of China are reading your works a thousand years from now: he wrote great poems.

They don't look great. We here at Stevereads are willing to grant you that. Lost in the cacophony of the present day, lost in the free-for-all of current poetic form, they get lost, as does everything else. We number among our young friends a poet of great ability, and he sees the blinding ability of Frank O'Hara - but he'd be hard-pressed to convey that greatness to any of the innumerable poetry-readings he attends, crowded with hep y0ung p0ets who understand everything about the genre except how to be good at it. It's a revelation to hear my young friend read O'Hara (late night, say, over the phone): he senses immediately the slangy, worldly-wise, conversational brilliance his poetry-reading cohorts can be relied upon to miss.


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