Monday, June 30, 2008

"God bless the rain, and the stormclouds that bring it.
God bless the music, and the voices that sing it.
God bless the ones who sing everything wrong.
God bless the creatures who do not belong.

God bless the hearts and the souls who are grieving;
for those who have left, and for those who are leaving.
God bless each perishing body and mind.
God bless all creatures remaining behind.

God bless the dreamers whose dreams have awoken.
God bless the lovers whose hearts have been broken.
God bless each soul that is tortured and taunted,
God bless all creatures, alone and unwanted."

From the children's book God Bless the Gargoyles by Dav Pilkey.
Just want to share that.
William Logan reviews the new Selected Poems of Frank O'Hara in the NYT. Logan is tough on O'Hara. But this collection replaces one published 30 years ago, & will serve as an introduction to O'Hara's poetry & the only collection of O'Hara new readers are likely to have on the bookshelf. O'Hara died in 1966 at age 40, run over by a beach buggy on Fire Island. It's difficult to imagine O'Hara sustaining his style into old age, or gaining a wide reputation as a poet at all had he not lived in New York City. He's an excellent example of the advantages of being a sociable gay artist in Manhattan with Ivy League connections. Poets have long known what was possible to get from his poems & what was never in them. But Frank O'Hara was & is loved for just being Frank O'Hara, with all the limitations, by poets who discovered him after his death. There are always poets who never lighten up, who never allow trivial things to remain trivial, who can't write a small poem about almost nothing & let it be about almost nothing. O'Hara is a corrective for those poets. That's his function. O'Hara probably saw it as his duty. The most esteemed American poets alive today seem like minor cultural entities compared to a time when O'Hara's inexpensive Lunch Poems book was still floating through college dorm rooms like a hip record album. * The spirit of the little volume in an era of war & societal upheaval was understood well enough.

* Lots of popular poetry books during the 60s & 70's, passed around, part of a familiar, shared contemporary literature overlapping with pop culture. A few years ago I encountered a 21 year-old Richard Brautigan fan. I said to the young woman, "Wow, I haven't run into one of you in a long, long time."


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