Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Frank O’Hara, Yeats, and others

From the short film USA: Poetry: Frank O’Hara:

John [Ashbery] and Kenneth [Koch] and I, and a number of other people later, found that the only people who were interested in our poetry were painters, or sculptors. You know, they were enthusiastic about different ideas, and they were more inquisitive. They had no — being non-literary, they had no parti pris about academic standards, attitudes, and so on. So that you could say “I don’t like Yeats,” and they would say “I know how just how you feel. I hate Picasso too.” [Laughs.]
In the poem “Fresh Air,” Koch refers to “Yeats of the baleful influence.” T. S. Eliot and William Butler Yeats still ruled when I was an English major in the late 1970s. To not like Yeats, to express reservations about, say, his loftiness, his mythiness, his self-regard, would have meant exile from the hall of poetry, or at least from the hallways of the buildings in which I took classes.

I like what the poet David Schubert wrote in 1938, in a letter to a friend: “I’m going to buy my edition of Yeats tomorrow, for he does belong to the ages although he knows it too well.”

Related posts
Breakfast with William B. and Edna St. V.
David Schubert, TR5-3718
Six lines from Auden

[Parti pris: “a preconceived view; a bias,” from the French “side taken” (New Oxford American Dictionary). The Schubert letter appears in David Schubert: Works and Days, the 1983 Quarterly Review of Literature volume devoted to his work.]

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