Frank O'Hara
Baltimore, Maryland
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Why I Am Not A Painter

Rating: 3.6
I am not a painter, I am a poet.
Why? I think I would rather be
a painter, but I am not. Well,

for instance, Mike Goldberg
is starting a painting. I drop in.
"Sit down and have a drink" he
says. I drink; we drink. I look
up. "You have SARDINES in it."
"Yes, it needed something there."
"Oh." I go and the days go by
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COMMENTS
Jameson Welch 23 March 2021
I remember reading an interview in The Poetry Project Newsletter some time ago in the mid 90's and in it there was this short poem called 'Why I am not a poet', and it was riffing on this same poem by O'Hara. I wish i could remember who it was by..
0 0 Reply
James Forneris 30 October 2018
Decades ago I came across this poem - and today I thought of it againThe wordsentered my life and decades ago I was a painter not a poet and these words have stuck with me since the 1970-80s Great poem thank you
0 0 Reply
Jozef Neumann 16 August 2016
Yes. That's the way it is. It comes and goes.
2 0 Reply
Frank Avon 26 September 2014
This poem illustrates how Frank O'Hara has a major place in a line of American poetry: free verse = Walt Whitman, Wm Carlos Williams, Allen Ginsburg, Frank O'Hara, Charles Bukowski. These poets reject traditional poetic forms as often being artificial. They also have stood out against Modernism (and much postmodernism) as being academic, elitist, and inaccessible to literate readers. This is not one of my favorite O'Hara poems, but it is one of the most often anthologized. And, by the way, Elias and Patrick, O'Hara's sexual orientation and relationships are irrelevant to this poem - though this is not always the case. So?
3 1 Reply
Kay Staley 25 September 2014
i really dont understand this at all, but I like the name. I have wondered why I am not a painter...being a writer instead, i never found the answer nor understood why i chose to let myself and my feelings out through words instead of a brush. Interesting thought but i seriously dont like the poem at all.
5 3 Reply
Nancy Oyula 25 September 2014
Nice. I played an imaginary background theme song as I read.
2 3 Reply
Sandra Feldman 25 September 2014
Perplexing but it shakes you up. I think this poem tries to express the different moments of creativity and how the creative spirit takes over regardless and in spite of the wishes of the creator. Different and interesting. Provokes a new poetic sensation
3 2 Reply
The poem I likes much due to its peculiar theme in sadness and expression of sadness and such things it is beautifully expressed in the poem.
4 3 Reply
Jasbir Chatterjee 25 September 2013
paintings, poems, music....these are all forms of creative expression...this poem puts it so beautifully...
5 10 Reply
Liliana ~el 25 September 2013
Wow, this is awesome! ! ! ! :)
6 7 Reply

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