Thank Heavens for the Iconoclast

“You just go on your nerve.”

-Frank O’Hara, “Personism”

Dorianne Laux took a pin to our significant, pastoral, first-person confessional, lyrical, serious, West-coast bubble with a great talk on Frank O’Hara. She read several of his poems and traced the influence of finding universality in absurdity through to such contemporary poets as Tony Hoagland and Charles Simic. The progression from the whimsical to the profound, through a conversational, person-to-person address, has had a significant influence on contemporary poetry. More importantly, it refreshes the language and encourages us writers to begin with a vital aspect of the creative process: not taking ourselves so seriously. It reminds me of the liberated-yet-practical turn of mind expressed by Marvin Bell, that, “on the one hand, it’s poetry! On the other, it’s just poetry.” Thanks heavens for the iconoclast.