In an essay from The Passionate Spectator, John Yau writes the following of poet Frank O’Hara, “[he] knew that there was a difference between being right and being in love. And love, the passionate expression of feelings one has in the present, is always central to O’Hara’s way of looking at art” (16). Yau’s assessment is an interesting one and forces us to reconsider O’Hara, not only through the lens of love and passion, which most readers typically do anyways, but also, through a philosophical, aesthetic, and perhaps even ethical way of seeing others, whereby love and truth are re-assembled as phenomena that are in conflict. If love is the site and surface where O’Hara’s poems occur and unfold, they do so under the impulsive gaze of O’Hara’s unique intimate aesthetic. O’Hara’s poems of everydayness, which are often referred to as the “I do this, I do that poems,” and his poems directly addressed to different friends, other poets, and various painters, confront and challenge the reader with this very tension, and what James Schuyler has called O’Hara’s ‘intimate yell.’
By examining this particular cross-section of O’Hara’s work, one finds a duplicity, between love and beauty, between passion and the ethical, and ultimately between language and humanity. For O’Hara, the “other” is always intimate, personal, and full of passion, but also, always part of an internal struggle and conflict: “I am the least difficult of men. All I want is boundless love” (197). O’Hara’s poetry possesses a knowing humility, passion, love, enthusiasm, and a solitariness that, as Yau suggests, is both “ecstatic and isolating,” which are the ingredients that enabled O’Hara, as his epitaph further suggests, “(the) grace to be born and live as variously as possible.” I would expand this point even more, and argue that O’Hara’s “turn toward the other” is, in fact, an ethical, as well as aesthetic ‘turn.’
Critics like Marjorie Perloff and Andrew Ross have, fortunately and successfully, argued that O’Hara’s work does not merely present a “culture of surface,” and that it does have its “political resonances, its implicit critique of a consumerism, dependent upon the sharply defined gender roles of the fifties and the dilemma they posed for the gay man” (Perloff 5). As a result, most of the subsequent ‘political’ criticism regarding O’Hara since then has centered around his homosexuality and the challenge this poses to dominant paradigms and ideologies—cultural, social, and linguistic.Rarely has any critic attempted to tackle the “ethical O’Hara.”Perhaps this is a result of the often erroneous assumption that any discussion of ethics and morality equals a discussion of strong (or weak) moral fiber (homosexuals, of course, epitomizing the latter and a flâneur even more so), or the equally erroneous assumption that ethics is solely reserved for the realm of philosophical discourse. In other words, O’Hara’s ‘gayness’ has somehow precluded him from an analysis that examines his work as a varied and complex poetry with ethical and philosophical dimensions—unless those dimensions are strictly a subversion of the status quo and the dominant ideology regarding sexuality, or an undermining of literary tradition. Or, perhaps it is something as simple as Poetry X editor, Jough Dempsey mentioned to me in a personal correspondence: “I think O’Hara tends to make people loosen their formalities—some poets are tuxedos—O’Hara is a pair of worn ol’ blue jeans.” O’Hara is this, the poet in blue jeans (”worn tightly” as he writes in “Meditations in an Emergency”)—a ‘fitting’ description. However, this certainly doesn’t reduce his complexity, as Dempsey is certainly keenly aware, but rather makes him more interesting. In other words, “tight jeans” are just as complex as a tuxedo— perhaps even more so—as in the case of O’Hara; i.e. the cultural codes, the sexual signals, the erotic impulses, the formal constrictions, and the conventional expectations are less discernable, but just as significant. O’Hara’s poems of everydayness open-up the everyday to vast possibilities and broad ways of perceiving what it means to human.
O’Hara is subversive of the underlying sexual and social paradigms, but he is, certainly, much more than just that. O’Hara’s quick wit, passion, casualness, and simplicity have been championed above all else; his poetry has a natural, campy exuberance, which is common, albeit accurate, praise from various critics and poets. However, Yau’s interesting assessment between ‘being in love’ and ‘being right’ challenges the reader to reconsider O’Hara within an ethical context; i.e. by ‘being right,’ Yau means more simply, being correct or true, but by extension, ‘acting right’ or ‘true.’ In other words, is the turn toward love more or less ethical than the turn toward what’s right or true? How do notions of love conflict with notions of the ‘ethical’? Where does O’Hara’s irreverent campy sensibility position him ethically and morally?
When considering this project, it seemed at first that O’Hara himself might reject such a reading, i.e. reading his poems through an ethical or philosophical lens; he does after all condemn Olson for being too grandiose and too interested in making the “important utterance,” ( 1 ) and in Personism, he writes: “Personism has nothing to do with philosophy, it’s all art.” My point, however, is not to make O’Hara seem moralizing (far from it, I hope) or amoral, but rather, to examine how his identity is constructed through a certain kind of love (distinct from sexuality) that is always already present in the existence of otherness.
O’Hara, the supposed poet flâneur, struggles with issues of truth and love, passion and friendship, language and the other, and his work is, in many ways, a poetic enactment and performance of this struggle.By confronting these challenges, by turning toward the gaze of the other, the ethical turn, O’Hara constructs and is constructed by the “other.” Identity, then, becomes an indeterminate product of this interaction with others, and a contingency of relation. In other words, through a different mode of articulation and an alternative discourse, O’Hara’s poetry often embodies and/or actualizes the self becoming a self through a relation and ethical obligation to the other.The site of this interaction is language—i.e. poetry.
An investigation of the physiognomy ( 2 ) of O’Hara’s work reveals a poetry that is deeply rooted in a duty toward others and an anticipation of love (an ‘ecstatic expectation’); the poems emerge from, and are a result of, borrowing from philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, the “face” of the other. Levinas writes: “The Other becomes my neighbour precisely through the way the face summons me, calls for me, begs for me, and in so doing recalls my responsibility, and calls me into question” (83). Levinas argues that ethics occurs prior to philosophy, that ethics precedes ontology, that a notion of the good is prior to being, and that the face of the other is “the site of the sensible.”In other words, meaning, sensibility, obligation and responsibility result because of the gaze of the other, and a gazing at/toward the other. The face of the other, according to Levinas, engages us in a way that inspires and insists upon ethical responsibility and behavior. Of course, the “face” is largely a metaphor for a complex methodology whereby it is not an incarnation, but rather, the space of meaning, the realm of justice it calls into question, and the way in which the other subjects and ’sub-jects’ me to act responsibly.
For O’Hara, this means ‘a poetry of the epistolary’—a direct address that is always toward a single person, a face, an audience of one.Yau writes, “The ‘you’ that O’Hara uses . . . is the kind of intimate address one finds in a letter sent by a friend.It is a way of writing, and of being in the world, that few writers, much less critics, can pull off. . . O’Hara was always conscious that his audience was made up of solitary individuals; he understood that solitariness is what all of us have in common. When we read O’Hara’s poems and reviews, we are unique and alone; each of us is getting a letter from an understanding, enthusiastic friend” (17). In Personism, O’Hara sarcastically quips: “But to give you a vague idea, one of its minimal aspects is to address itself to one person (other than the poet himself), thus evoking overtones of love without destroying love’s life-giving vulgarity, and sustaining the poet’s feelings towards the poem while preventing love from distracting him into feeling about the person” (xiv). Most critics frame O’Hara’s gaze toward the other within strictly sexual (homosexual) terms—an interesting doubling of the infamous “male gaze”—and indeed it often is that: “As for measure and other technical apparatus, that’s just common sense: if you’re going to buy a pair of pants you want them to be tight enough so everyone will want to go to bed with you” (O’Hara xiii). However, even in these lines from Personism, we see the complex double unfolding of a sexual metaphor and a poetics. O’Hara enters the world through poetry, through language, and through the relationship of the other.Sometimes this “entering” is sexual and erotic:
I wear a hook in my look to be sexy, the two of us mucking the fast in a bush.He puts his long fingers into the wet mandolin precious with lotion (Hieronymus Bosch 121)
and at other times it is full of longing and friendship:
I wonder if one person out of the 8,000,000 is thinking of me as I shake hands with LeRoi and buy a strap for my wristwatch and go back to work happy at the thought possibly so (Personal Poem 336).
These poems transpire because of the presence of otherness and the way in which it constructs a persona. His identity changes with the identity of the person addressed in each poem. His despair, as well as his courage and passion, is clearly contingent upon the presence of an(other):
Let’s take a walk, you and I in spite of the weather if it rains hard on our toes we’ll stroll like poodles and be washed down a gigantic scenic gutter that will be exciting! voyages are not all like this you just put your toes together then maybe blood will get meaning and a trick become slight in our keeping before we sail the open sea it’s possible— And the landscape will do us some strange favor when we look back at each other anxiously (41-42)
It is the anxious look, where the “I” subject emerges. For O’Hara, the very existence of the poetic self and the poetic identity necessarily relies upon the way in which the other and otherness summons us into existence. Meaning, as well, is contingent upon the presence of the ‘face’ of the other.
Levinas suggests that a human beings’ very otherness “imposes a duty upon us, before we are able to deny it” (Eaglestone 138), and that we are “fundamentally responsible for others before we can theorize this relationship, and before we can place the other in relation to our own being” (Eaglestone 138), or as John Caputo explains, obligation simply ‘happens.’ ( 3 ) Equally, for O’Hara, the obligation to others ’simply happens,’ and it happens through love, in all its beauty and torment:
I. My heart’s aflutter! I am standing in the bath tub crying.Mother, mother who am I?If he will just come back once and kiss me on the face . . . 2. I love you. I love you, but I’m turning to my verses and my heart is closing like a fist. Words! be sick as I am sick, swoon, roll back your eyes, a pool, and I’ll stare down at my wounded beauty which is only a talent for poetry. . . . . . I embraced a cloud, but when I soared it rained. (201)
The poem begins with a direct address to the narrator’s mother, then turns to an address to a lover, and finally, the narrator makes direct references to the Russian poet for which the poem is titled, Mayakovsky:
Now I am quietly waiting for the catastrophe of my personality to seem beautiful again, and interesting, and modern. The country is grey and brown and white in trees, snows and skies of laughter always diminishing, less funny not just darker, not just grey. It may be the coldest day of the year, what does he think of that?I mean, what do I?And if I do, perhaps I am myself again. (202)
The “I” of this poem slides and changes according to the “you,” and the mood and tone transforms along with it.In other words, the poetic voice is a result of the address made, and each address, each “other” brings about an alterior self.
For Levinas, it is the presence of the other, a necessary alterity, that brings us into the world; i.e. the very presence of otherness makes our existence possible, and further, that “[l]anguage is born in responsibility” (Ethics 82). Duty toward the other is imposed prior to the recognition of our own being and, in fact, constructs not only our awareness of self, but the “self itself.” O’Hara’s questioning at the end of the poem seems to echo the following Levinasian notion of being (or as I’ll explain—non-being):
Perhaps the interiority of the mental is originally an insufficient courage to assert oneself in one’s being or in body or flesh.One comes not into the world but into question. (Reader 81)
‘Being’ in this sense, exists antithetical to the Heideggarian sense of Dasein, and in fact, any ontological sense regarding the existence of the self. That is, Levinas, in Otherwise than Being, positions himself in opposition to Heidegger’s notion of being, and reconsiders an existence that is possible only in alterity, and as the passage above suggests—in question. Instead of “being thrown into being,” as Heidegger implies, Levinas asserts that obligation simply happens, prior to the awareness of the self.O’Hara echoes this thinking in “Sleeping on the Wing”:
Fear drops away too, like the cement, and you are over the Atlantic.where is Spain? where is who?The Civil War was fought to free the slaves, was it? A sudden down-draught reminds you of gravity and your position in respect to human love.But here is where the gods are, speculating, bemused. Once you are helpless, you are free, can you believe that? Never to waken to the sad struggle of a face? to travel always over some impersonal vastness, to be out of, forever, neither in nor for! (235)
For O’Hara, love ‘just happens’—we are essentially constructed as a result of our feeling, or obligation for the other—the “sad struggle of a face” is what shapes our identity— relationally.The shaping of a personality is contingent upon the presence of the other:”As a profile or silhouette ‘a thing owes its nature to a perspective, remains relative to the point of view; a thing’s situation constitutes its being. Strictly speaking it has no identity . . .’” (Eaglestone 115) until confronted or summoned by the other, and for O’Hara, through love.Language becomes the actual site of ethical obligation, whereby one brings the other into question. (Eaglestone 122)
Levinas proceeds in a similar way through philosophical discourse. And, although Robert Eaglestone has argued that “[l]iterary critics who have used Levinas’s work to provide a basis for criticism have not appreciated the full weight of his arguments against aesthetics . . . (and that) a Levinasian criticism would be an anti-criticism, warding off readers from literary works” (124), the parallels between the two, philosopher and poet, illuminate aspects of O’Hara’s work, as well perhaps, Levinas’s philosophy.In fact, it is Levinas’s suspicions of art that most interests me in terms of O’Hara.Rather than repel, however, it peaks a certain curiosity regarding aesthetics and language. Levinas writes that, in art,
(the) world to be built is replaced by the essential contemplation of the shadow.This is not the disinterestedness of contemplation but of irresponsibility. The poet exiles himself from the city.There is something wicked and egoist and cowardly in artistic enjoyment.There are times when one can be ashamed of it, as of feasting during a plague. (Reader 142)
Levinas’ suspicion and often blatant derision of art is certainly problematic and clearly must be approached with some trepidation if used in a critical (or parallel) way with poetry. In Levinas’ early works, such as Reality and Its Shadow and Totality and Infinity, he argues that all art is mimetic and that rather than revealing some kind of truth, it ‘bewitches’ and ‘beguiles’ us, not with reality, but with non-being.His rather poignant metaphor that art is like a dream “in which we are participants without having chosen to be” (Eaglestone 105) encapsulates his view of art as a ‘cold splendor’; i.e. as something that is simultaneously wonderful and destructive. Although, in his later work, Otherwise than Being, Levinas’s perspective on art shifts, especially toward a more deconstructive methodology, his privileging of “ethics as first philosophy” and his suspicions of art and aesthetics remain intact.
However, as mentioned previously, I find his suspicions and attacks to be an ironically useful philosophical lens through which to consider O’Hara’s poetry. Levinas condemns art by calling it essentially irresponsible and a form of hedonistic enjoyment. One might imagine O’Hara, “city poet,” contemplating his own shadow, i.e. his own exile, amidst the skyscrapers of New York and the enjoyment, the necessary sustenance, that art provides. Like Levinas, the poet, is summoned into existence through language:
Here I am at my desk. The light is bright enough to read by it is a warm friendly day I am feeling assertive.I slip a few poems into the pelican’s bill and he is off! out the window into the blue! The editor is delighted I hear his clamor for more but that is nothing.Ah! reader! you open the page my poems stare at you you stare back, do you not? my poems speak on the silver of your eyes your eyes repeat them to your lover’s this very night.Over your naked shoulder the improving stars read my poems and flash them onward to a friend. The eyes the poems of the world are changed! Pelican! you will read them too! (A Pleasant Thought from Whitehead 23-24)
In this poem, O’Hara is summoned and summons the reader by setting his poetry on an impossible journey, to be ingested, as it were, by an audience. Quite contrary to Levinas, in this instance, O’Hara makes it obvious that art reveals the love and friendships that he cultivated throughout his life. Living on the ‘margins,’ as a gay man and as a poet, art is more than just a consolation or escape for O’Hara—it is what makes a fulfilling life possible. The poem, like the poet, is only made possible from an acknowledgement of an outside to itself.This isn’t to suggest a return to HR Jauss or early reader-response theory, but rather, it suggests that O’Hara’s response to the world is contingent upon the presence of his individual audience (i.e. otherness), real or imagined. In fact, the ‘response’ of reader-response is reversed: the culture, the audience of one calls the poem into existence. O’Hara’s ‘enjoyment’ with art and language is not, as Levinas suggests, self-indulgent hedonism. For O’Hara, desire is linked to a love that is always intimate and aesthetic. This love becomes O’Hara’s ‘intimate morality’ and is couched in an obligation to love as passionately (and variously) as possible:
When I am feeling depressed and anxious sullen all you have to do is take your clothes off and all is wiped away revealing life’s tenderness that we are flesh and breathe and are near us as you are really as you are I become as I really am alive and knowing vaguely what it is (349)
O’Hara’s aesthetic is literally em(bodied) in the other. The body is a site for pleasure and enjoyment, as well as beauty and love.Art, and especially poetry, become for O’Hara a place of rescue—both real and metaphysical. In O’Hara’s work, we find that art is a yin-yang of the aesthetic and the ethical. The other becomes the troubled locus of pleasure and of beauty, as well as the place where love is manifested. Love, for O’Hara is the ultimate gesture; it is where one ‘becomes’ and ‘knows,’ and therefore, it is the acknowledgement of an ethical obligation. The site is ‘troubled’ because it is a rupture, an intervention, and a disruption in the reality of human relationships, as well as on the surface of language. Through this necessary alterity, one comes “into the world.”
Jean-Francois Lyotard explains Levinas’s distinction of the self through a response and a rupture of language in the following way:
Instead of being the description of an experience, conducted by an I in quest of self-knowledge, perhaps Levinas’s writing is the testimony of the fracture, of the opening onto that other who in the reader sends a request to Levinas, of a responsibility before that messenger who is the reader. . . . For the one who reads is one who requests, one who calls. The one who writes is bound by this request, is upset, beside oneself, unsure whether one is binding or liberating oneself by writing. (113)
This fracturing through language causes a disruption in the same way that Jaques Derrida conceives of deconstruction as a violent rupture. ( 4 ) Instead of the poem calling an audience into being, the reader calls the poem into being, which dismantles the linearity of cause and effect and conventional subject/object ordering. For Levinas, language is expressional rather than representational; i.e. language reveals and discloses the existence of the other—it is a manifestation of absence becoming presence. Language establishes presence and thereby reveals the other, and it “establishes the world” by summoning it into existence.
O’Hara’s language is in constant play, sliding above and below the textual surface, through a duty toward the call of another. This play is precisely what establishes his identity and it is always in flux and unstable. In other words, each interaction, each relationship requires, and therefore, constructs a different self. Michel Foucault notes the following regarding the construction of identity and thought, via otherness:
Far from leading back . . . toward a peak of identity, far from indicating the moment of the same at which the dispersion of the other has not yet come into play, the original in man is that which articulates him from the very outset upon something other than himself (331)
The unthought (whatever name we give it) is not lodged in man like a shriveled-up nature or a stratified history; it is, in relation to man, the Other:the Other that is not only a brother but a twin, born, not of man, nor in man, but beside him and at the same time, in an identical newness, in an unavoidable duality.(326)
In considering Foucault, in terms of O’Hara’s poetry, one can further argue that rather than disclosing, revealing or uncovering an essence that is the poet-poetic language complicates the exploration of identity by re-creating possibility and potential at every “break,” every turn.In other words, one ‘performs’ and reveals the existence of the other as language, which as Levinas and Derrida both suggest exists as a condition of violence and rupture.O’Hara creates varying disruptions as a ‘call’ to and from the other, and through imagery that ranges from everyday actions to very surreal and oneiric. Each poem is self-conscious of itself as poetry, and as language that is other than simply representational. The poem is an enactment of becoming presence as a result of the other. In “A Note to John Ashbery,” the poet writes the following:
More beautiful even than wild ducks paddling among drowned alley cats your green-ringed words roll nooses of elephant smells and hoop fine delicate grunts of giraffes around our neck. Where the sun is and how sharp the tree grows we find ourselves when you push us into the mangoes from under your Papageno cape. If we could keep your words forever in our heart like a tub of frogs. (33)
This poem, which mimics Ashbery by remaining on the surface of the language and the image field, reveals an emerging self through the words of others (i.e. the ‘you’ of the poem), and the way in which the “green-ringed words” push, pull, and roll the speaker into and onto different imagistic sites and linguistic fields. The images become the presence and manifestation of the ‘we’: “Anyway we crane over the wave gawk/ pleasantly and make a scaly leg. “The images and the language construct the self through “call and response” toward the other. Eaglestone suggests that “[l]anguage fractures the totality. Language, the site of the ethical relation, is how the other puts us into question”(122). The other and the self, our presence, are made possible through language. This echoes, to some extent, Derrida’s argument in Of Grammatology where he suggests, that “textuality is first philosophy.”For Levinas however, there exists the ethical prior to the “violent opening” that language creates. The prior exists as and because of the presence of the other. O’Hara’s poetry points to a similar relationality:
Instant coffee with slightly sour cream in it, and a phone call to the beyond which doesn’t seem to be coming any nearer. “Ah daddy, I wanna stay drunk many days” on the poetry of a new friend my life held precariously in the seeing hands of others, their and my impossibilities. Is this love, now that the first love has finally died, where there were no impossibilities?
Presence, in this poem, is “precarious” and contingent upon “hands of others” and their “impossibilities.” The relationship to the other is O’Hara’s methodology; i.e. the poems are a vehicle for the interrogation created by the presence of the other.
Moreover, love always precedes existence and is prior to obligation. Love is what causes the emergence of identity— it is the summoning of the other that Levinas suggests, and precisely what creates O’Hara’s ethical stance. It seems equally appropriate to assert that ‘love’ is, metaphorically, the face of the other—i.e. the surface of the body where O’Hara discloses the yin-yang of aesthetic and ethical. Jack Spicer, a contemporary of O’Hara writes:
When you are in love there is no real problem. The person you love is always interested because he knows that the poems are always about him. If only because each poem will someday be said to belong to Miss X or Mr. Y period of the poet’s life. I may not be a better poet when I am in love, but I am a far less frustrated one. My poems have an audience. (38-9)
I think O’Hara would agree. But, he would extend that love to include friendship and a more general love for human kind. I’m not suggesting a happily-ever-after scenario, or a love-thy-brother one either. Instead, I mean to suggest that the possibility of love is what binds O’Hara’s language to humanity - the text is glued, via the image, via urgency, via hope to the very otherness that constructs us.
So, what then, is the point in establishing O’Hara as an “ethical” poet? Besides adding to the conversation that his importance transcends the now stereotypical flâneur-image of the poet dashing-off simple poems to friends without much substance, it also establishes a new layer of possibility in the direction of O’Hara’s language and its philosophical, ethical and aesthetic implications, which to suggest a now postmodern anachronism, yet one that is still compelling, toward a philosophy of possibility, rather than closure. One might ask then, without closure, without some determinacy, how can ethical ideas be approached? What kind of morality is insinuated within the framework of ethical thinking? Is it in continual “play” or is there something suggested? Is it a continual negation like deconstruction? In other words, if identity is contingent upon others, thus becoming a relational spiral that spins infinitely in-play, how can there be an ethical positioning at all?
O’Hara sidesteps this discourse altogether, but not through an omission. The urgency and immediacy in his poems are always a presence in and of themselves—textual, poetic—and always an immediate address, beckoning and a being beckoned into the world through language and through the image of love:
everything is too comprehensible these are my delicate and caressing poems I suppose there will be more of those others to come, as in the past so many! but for now the moon is revealing itself like a pearl to my equally naked heart (Avenue A 356)
And, this is the final point: infinite play, uncertainty and indeterminacy do not mean a lack of substance or lack of an ethical concern for the other. Reading O’Hara teaches us how to read with a levity that enhances our understanding of language, and how the mere utterance is always already an obligation to the other. As O’Hara’s influence continues to grow, we can see that this “play,” this putting into question, beckons and challenges us to consider our “self,” always as a becoming, always in relation to those around us.
Eaglestone, Robert. Ethical Criticism: Reading After Levinas. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997.
Foucault, Michel. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. New York: Pantheon Books, 1970.
Levinas, Emmanuel. Otherwise Than Being: or, Beyond Essence. Trans. by Alphonso Lingis. Boston: Kluwer Academic, 1981
–. Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority. Trans. by Alphonso Lingis. Boston : Kluwer Academic, 1991.
–. The Levinas Reader, ed. Sean Hand. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Pulishers, 1989.
Lyotard, Jean-Francois. The Differend: Phrases in Dispute. Trans. by Georges Van Den Abbeele. Minneaplois: University of Minnesota Press, 1988.
O’Hara, Frank. The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara. Ed. Donald Allen. Berkely: University ofCalifornia Press, 1995.
O’Hara, Frank. “Personism: A Manifesto.” The Selected Poems of Frank O’Hara. Ed. by Donald Allen. New York: Vintage Books, 1974.
Perloff, Marjorie. Frank O’Hara: Poet Among Painters. New York: George Braziller, 1977.
Sartre, Jean-Paul. Essays in Existentialism. Ed. with foreword by Wade Baskin. Secaucus, NJ: The Citadel Press, 1965.
Spicer, Jack. The Collected Books of Jack Spicer. Ed. & with commentary by Robin Blaser. Santa Rosa, CA: Black Sparrow Press, 1996.
Yau, John.”The Passionate Spectator: John Yau on Frank O’Hara.” Rain Taxi. Vol. 5, No.4 (Winter 2000/2001).
- See Perloff, Frank O’Hara: Poet Among Painters
- I borrow this term from Sartre’s assessment of the ‘uses’ of words in poetry from his essay, What is Writing? Sartre argues that “each word is used simultaneously for its clear and social meaning and for certain obscure resonances—let me say, almost for its physiognomy” (317). More than simple ambiguity, however, Sartre suggests that the poetic word (each poetic ‘unit’) is a microcosm built not simply on communications but on the nuance of grace and chance.
- Quoted in Eaglestone page 138, from John Caputo’s Against Ethics.
- See Derrida, “Violence and Metaphysics.”
About the Author
Mark Tursi is co-founder and co-editor of the online literary magazine, Double Room: A Journal of Prose Poetry and Flash Fiction. He received his MFA from Colorado State University, and he is a current instructor and PhD. candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Denver. His poem, “ Overlapping and Oblivious to the Other” was recently selected for publication by the Park Avenue Broadside Series. His reviews and creative work appear regularly in literary journals, and his awards include the Marija Cerjak Society Award for Avant-garde and Experimental Writing, the Paolucci Prize for Italian American Writing (honorable mention) and two Academy of American Poets Prizes.