Thursday, May 29, 2003

HiH has returned to the question of a "social" poet and whether Frank O'Hara and/or Bruce Andrews might be one.

David had originally asked:

Who is the more 'social' poet -- Frank O'Hara or Bruce Andrews? It would seem that optimism or something resembling grace would be an axiom of a truly social poetry. As I define it are there then any social language poets?

Perhaps then the role of the poet is not to create a discourse in which only the initiate can participate but a social language that desires all to speak, hear and be heard.

To which I responded:

iI guess I think of O'Hara as less a social than a sociable poet, someone who's always talking to everybody and reporting on talking to everybody, friendly and open in that way--but the question is whether that sociability is just being reported on at a remove or whether the reader is really invited into it, included in it.

You make the call. Two examples, chosen at semi-random.

O'Hara, from "In Memory of My Feelings" (chosen in part because David cited "grace" as one of the qualities of a social poet):

Beards growing, and the constant anxiety
over looks. I'll shave before she wakes up. Sam Goldwyn
spent $2,000,000 on Anna Sten, but Grushenka left America.
One of me is standing in the waves, an ocean bather,
or I am naked with a plate of devils at my hip.
to be born and live as variously as possible. The conception
of the masque barely suggests the sordid identifications.
I am a Hittite in love with a horse. I don't know what blood's
in me I feel like an African prince I am a girl walking downstairs
in a red pleated dress I am a champion taking a fall
I am a jockey with a sprained ass-hole I am the light mist
in which a face appears

Andrews, from "Mistaken Identity":

The situation has a situation
Electro-convulsive opinions eat us
Pig brink dollarization, the marriage of money gobble gobble money
Profit margin american cream dream cultures of vultures
A social predicament, the losers are self-preoccupied
Jellyfish FBI -- are you a vending machine?
Who fights the free? -- at least the exploited ones have a future
Dayglo ethics, corporate global chucksteak
Lose the flag, nightstick imitation value goosing me
Estados Unidos, suck o loaded pistol
Scale model blonde -- zoloft, paxil, luvox, celexa
Need money? -- it's easy, it's simple
Dot-commie foreskin arrevederci
Hot mark-up johnny on the spectacle
You as the human labor saving device
Culture, please -- all very non-missionary
Massive doses of dog tranquilizer -- to stop being reeducated
Hostesss of the ecosystem

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