April 23rd, 2009

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Happiness meme_Day six

I don't know if this counts but I just finished reading a book "Digressions on some poems by Frank O'Hara" by Joe LeSueur that I put off finishing just as long as I could, I never wanted it to end. I actually started reading two other books, and finished one, while reading it just to slow myself down. The one not finished is a book of O'Hara's previously unpublished poems gathered up in 1996 by Donald Allen titled "Poems Retrieved".

"Digressions" was written by LeSueur around thirty-five years after O'Hara died (in 1966) about his time in the company of O'Hara and The New York School of Poetry. I fell in love instantly with this man and the way he wrote his 'memoir', it's as if you're with him, sitting around chatting in a way, he talks to the reader and in such a gentle way, asking you for your opinion and your forgiveness when he runs off on his tangents. And it's utterly immediate, he says things like 'as I sit looking at my computer screen...' or 'in rereading this poem I just remebered....'. I had to keep reminding myself it was written by a seventy-five year old man who died  eight years ago, he was so fresh and easy to read.

When I finsihed, I had tears in my eyes. The last chapter is the telling of how O'Hara died, the funeral etc. That's the end but it wasn't supposed it be. LeSueur died, the manuscript was found among his papers, just before its completion. How fitting somehow, such beautifully symetry. And LeSueur died in East Hampton which is where O'Hara is buried (and Jackson Pollack). It's as if LeSueur never left O'Hara.

The draft of the manuscript was accompanied by this pefatory note:
"'Because I lived with Frank O'Hara for nine and a half years, from the summer of 1955 until January 1965, and because his poetry tends to be autobiographical, I am inundated with memories of our life together when I read certain works of his from that period and just before. The four apartments we shared, the people we saw, the events large and small that shaped our lives -all this is brought to mind. Thus, in the present work, it was my intention to explore these aspects of Frank's poems, the evocation of old memories; and in doing so, I was discurvise and disposed to going off on wild tangents. Also, since I thought it important that the reader have some idea of who I am and where I'm coming from, I added extensive background material about myself -so much, in fact, that I had the uncomfortable feeling I was upstaging Frank. But what could I do? The book wrote itself, just as its title was automatic. These personal notes on Frank's poems are indeed disgressions, and I make no claim for their vlaue."

So where's the happiness in all this? I've had the experience of this wonderful book and tomorrow, if I want, I can start it all over again.