Saturday, December 6, 2008

New York Poets

Having read some of the New York poets before, I have to say they are some of my favorite poets. This might just be that I also like a lot of the jazz from that time and some of the art. I think the New York poets say a lot about the time they were in. Following World War II the 50s and 60s had the concerns of the Cold War and Red Scare. I think that made the poets very "in the moment."
I believe Frank O'Hara is a good example of this with his "Lunch Poems." In "A Step Away From Them" it as if the reader is walking alongside O'Hara on his lunch hour. The poem is very "in the moment" yet his concern with time is clear. It is as if he can write down every fact of his day that he'll somehow calculate more time, or at least be able to recall everything in the future. O'Hara's poems are very much like a journal entry, and does allow him to preserve those moments in time. James Schuylar's poem "Korean Mums" also represents this concept. He writes to preserve a moment in time he found important or influential. They focus on moments in times which are like small epiphanies, and although the writer one day will be gone, the poem will always be there.

I also find it so interesting at the ability to write something at the spur of a moment like in OHara's "Lana Turner Has Collapsed."
The poem also reflects the idea of humor in writing at the time. I like the fact that the poets had the ability to laugh at what they were doing. I think Kenneth Koch was a good example of this. His "Variations on a Theme" makes fun of William Carlos Williams' poem, which was originally a note he left for his wife. Again I believe the idea of including humor in the poem is influenced by what was going on in the world at the time. I believe it's the idea that it is possible to be respectful of poetry yet at the same time not let seriousness control how a poem is written.

Similar to the artists of the time, such as Pollock, the New York poets were inspired by spontaneity. Although I am more picky when it comes to the sort of art I like from the time, I love Dali's surrealism. However, from what we looked at in class I just can't totally understand de Kooning or Pollock. I suppose I'm looking for more depth, and they are just so abstract I need a map to find a general direction to a possible idea. However, since I cannot totally understand the finished work I'll have to respect and put more weight in the concept of the creation of the work. Pollock, I believe, brings people to question why art has to only be the finished product. Instead of just looking at the final canvas, why not look at the entire process of creating the portrayed as art.

Overall I do enjoy reading the New York poets, and I find it very interesting how connected they were with the artists of the time. The fact that music and even theatre was also changing at the time, it was as if it was a cultural epidemic. I do have to wonder if there will ever be another cultural moment like the New York school, since I think the arts have move in a very different directing since probably around the 60s or 70s.

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