Frank O'Hara American Literature Analysis
O’Hara’s style and subject matter are very different from the dominant poetic tradition of the period. O’Hara disliked the complex modernism of T. S. Eliot, and he was displeased about Eliot’s influence upon the most important critical school of the period, the New Criticism. He described Eliot’s influence on modern poetry as “deadening.” In contrast, he called his critical view “Personism”; this was a rejection of nearly all the formal aspects of poetry—such as rhyme, meter, assonance, even logical structure—while substituting for these elements the immediacy and presence of the individual speaking voice. Often, in some of O’Hara’s most interesting and amusing poems, that personal voice is captured in conversation with friends about the seemingly trivial events of the day. There is no attempt to create symbolic or mythic depth out of these ordinary events; the emphasis is on the intensity and wit revealed in these exchanges and descriptions.
O’Hara did not, however, reject all poetic influence. He preferred the simplicity of diction of William Carlos Williams and the surrealistic imagery of the French Symbolists, especially Arthur Rimbaud, to the high modernism of poets who followed the lead of Eliot. Another important influence was the poetry of the Russian Formalist Vladimir Mayakovsky, whose riddling lines concentrated on making the literary device reveal itself. O’Hara never seeks to hide the fact that what he is...
(The entire section is 2578 words.)
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