Posted by: Tom Triumph | March 14, 2010

80. Why I Am Not a Painter: Frank O’Hara

I think of this poem as above most high school students, yet every time I use it a student will come to me months later and compare their daydreaming or writing process to it. Amazing.

So, you want to bring it up during the week. When the kids are not writing, mention the artistic process. Then, at the end of the week, discuss the benefits of being off task.

Note: I am not sure where the breaks are. Yeah, sloppy blogging. I have the poem on an overhead, and they gave me a LCD projector and Smartboard since two years ago, but that is in a file back at school.

Why I Am Not a Painter
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.

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Responses

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