Sunday, December 16, 2012

Frank O'Hara "Why I Am Not a Painter"

Mike Goldberg's "Sardines"
Larry Rivers' "Double Portrait of Frank O'Hara"
Frank O'Hara

Why I Am Not a Painter 

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 
and I drop in again. The painting
is going on, and I go, and the days 
go by. I drop in. The painting is 
finished. "Where's SARDINES?" 
All that's left is just
letters, "It was too much," Mike says. 

But me? One day I am thinking of 
a color: orange. I write a line 
about orange. Pretty soon it is a 
whole page of words, not lines.
Then another page. There should be 
so much more, not of orange, of
words, of how terrible orange is 
and life. Days go by. It is even in 
prose, I am a real poet. My poem 
is finished and I haven't mentioned 
orange yet. It's twelve poems, I call 
it ORANGES. And one day in a gallery 
I see Mike's painting, called SARDINES.

Read more at Smithsonian's American Art Museum blog 

painters and poets


  1. This is a great post and the poet really expresses a great story through this painting and I just love how perfect this post is.

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