Sunday, October 16, 2011

Day four: Why I Am Not a Painter

Why I Am Not a Painter (Frank O'Hara)

This one is me, oh yes. I start writing something and I know what it is about, and by the time it's done I've taken out those first scribbled lines and there's no mention of them at all, but the piece is still about what it is about.

I love the conversational tone of this one, the way it sounds like a story someone would tell you, and yet it keeps a certain rhythm that's poetic. I'm not sure I could put my finger on what makes that happen - is it just the format? I don't think so. There's just a bit of a swing to it. "The painting / is going on, and I go, and the days / go by." This is one I'd love to have heard the poet read aloud, just to know how it was intended to sound.

It's one of the things, I have to say, that I still don't really get about poetry, how you're supposed to read it. You don't pause where the line breaks (oho, what a newbie mistake that is when you're first learning), just where the sentences go, except why break there if it doesn't mean anything? I've studied poetry in classes and things and I never really felt like this was explained to my satisfaction. And obviously there isn't "an answer" but I think most poets must think about this sort of thing, don't they? I know I did, when I was writing poetry, and to me it felt like those line divisions should have some weight, should mean something. Yet that doesn't seem to be the pattern I've noticed at readings. I wonder if there's some sort of book on this. I will research and blog more later!

Back to O'Hara. I like the parallel of the painter and the poet, the repetition of "days go by. " The way they're doing the same thing basically, except that what they work with is different. The painter is a painter because he paints, that's the essence of the difference. It's not a difference in the way of working but in the material used. Art is still art. That's reassuring, actually. Because I'd really like to be a painter. But this kind of makes me feel like I'm not too far off.

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