Does Frank O'Hara's poetry necessitate an active or passive reading?In relation to 'Ave Maria' and/or 'Having a Coke with you'

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Jessica Pope | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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Frank O'Hara's poetry is known for its simple appeal to the senses rather than its symbolism or literary technique. He makes strong use of imagery, taste, scent and emotional evocation. For this reason, many literary critics have taken the view that a more passive (literal) reading of O'Hara is best. O'Hara himself has also referenced his prosiac tendencies within his poetry. In his poem "Why I am Not a Painter," he wrote: "It is even in prose, I am a real poet." This poem comments on the "painter-envy" many poets felt during the time when poetry was highly abstract and poetic. Many poets (like O'Hara) felt that a more concrete, image-based poetry better suited their creative aspirations. Considering O'Hara's own self-references as a concrete, literal and prosaic poet, it makes sense to adopt a passive reading of his works.
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Jessica Pope | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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The poems "Having a Coke with You" and "Ava Maria" both follow O'Hare's image- and sense-based approach. "Having a Coke with You" in particular is considered to be one of the richest poems of the senses, and has been noted for it's lack of figurative literary devices of phrases.

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