Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Why I Am Not A Painter

Poet Frank O'Hara to be honored with plaque in Tompkins Square today.

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


Described as a Poet Among Painters, Frank O'Hara is being honored with a historic plaque at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 10 outside O'Hara's former home at 441 East Ninth Street, just west of Tompkins Square Park in New York City.

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation writes that, "O'Hara's poetry has a wonderful connection to his surroundings in the East Village, so we think it will be particularly appropriate to honor him in this way. As a MoMA curator, gay man, and leader of the New York School of poetry, he reflected all parts of his life in his work -- particularly the downtown people and places that meant so much to him, whether St. Brigid's church or the San Remo Cafe."

The event is co-sponsored by The Poetry Project and poets Tony Towle and Edmund Berrigan will also read. The event is free and open to all, but reservations are requested; please call (212) 475-9585 ext. 35 or email rsvp@gvshp.org.