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  • Dr.Pragya Suman

Poem of The Week

Why I Am Not a Painter

By FranK O’ Hara

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.

Editor’s Note

Frank O’Hara is one of my favourite poets; His poem WHY I AM NOT A PAINTER, was written collaboratively. Hara, a cheerful, generous soul, liked to visit his painter friends and give his feedback, without whom many great artworks were not seen in the days. In this poem, Mike Goldberg invites him to “Sit down and have a drink.” Goldberg used the improvisational technique; an artwork must occur spontaneously and without prior planning. The painting starts with the word Sardines, not a fixed ideas and ends with replacing them on the canvas. In the end, only the name is left SARDINES. Painting begins with letters and ends with letters, initial thought got vanishes in the palimpsest, and with nominal fabric retained, the flesh is replaced. I would like better to call it a fossiled painting repleted with totally alienated pulp.

ORANGES poem starts with the idea of colour, written in words, not lines, without mentioning the word orange. Both art pieces are the inventions of abstract expressionism without a preplanned theme, and their triggering factors are colour and word. Colour for a poet and word for a painter reflecting the solid intertwined, interlocked tentacles of two different art forms. The New York poets and artists created many art pieces, tentacles lost in layers of palimpsest but oozing throughout the abstract veins,

In this poem, Hara had used a conversational style. In his manifesto Personism: A Manifesto, “he writes besides poetry, I like movies too. And after all, only Whitman and Craine and Williams, of the American poets, are better than the movies.”

Dr Pragya Suman

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