domingo, 30 de noviembre de 2014

Lana Turner has collapsed! (Frank O'Hara)

Ya terminé el curso de poesía estadounidense moderna y contemporánea que hice desde septiembre hasta noviembre. Fue una experiencia genial que cambió mi forma de percibir la poesía. Recuerdo que hace un tiempo atrás dije que no coincidía con Emily Dickinson (a ella le gustaba más la poesía que la prosa y decía que vivía en la Posibilidad, nombre que le daba a la poesía) y que yo prefería vivir en la "casa de la prosa". Creo que a partir de este curso me gustan las "dos casas" y voy a vivir en las dos al mismo tiempo. El año que viene este curso va a estar disponible nuevamente en Coursera así que si son traductores de inglés, profesores o estudiantes de estas carreras se los recomiendo. Es una experiencia única, muy enriquecedora, y un gran complemento a lo que una estudia en la facultad.

Hoy comparto con ustedes el tercer ensayo que tuve que escribir. En esta oportunidad, tuve que analizar un poema de Frank O'Hara. Les dejo la consigna y, a continuación, mi ensayo.

Below is a poem by Frank O'Hara, "Poem," known also by its first line, "Lana turner has collapsed!" 

Frank O'Hara en 1965

Poem [Lana Turner has collapsed!]

Lana Turner has collapsed! 
I was trotting along and suddenly
it started raining and snowing
and you said it was hailing
but hailing hits you on the head
hard so it was really snowing and
raining and I was in such a hurry
to meet you but the traffic
was acting exactly like the sky
and suddenly I see a headline 
there is no snow in Hollywood
there is no rain in California
I have been to lots of parties
and acted perfectly disgraceful
but I never actually collapsed
oh Lana Turner we love you get up

In your short essay of about 500 words, do a close reading of this poem. Your essay should address the extent to which the poem's meaning is open. For example, your essay might discuss the way this poem is very much like those by the New York School poets we are reading in this course, and shares their formal principles, particularly the I-do-this-I-do-that style of poems such as "The Day Lady Died." However, please also note any specific formal principles that distinguish this poem from other poems. Your essay might discuss (briefly) specific lines of the poem, or you might choose what you consider to be key lines, metaphors, or terms, and explain each fully. 

What Happened to Lana Turner?

Lana Turner en la década del cuarenta

"Poem [Lana Turner has collapsed!]" was written by Frank O’Hara. It appeared in the book Lunch Poems which was published in 1964. O’Hara wrote it while he was on the Staten Island Ferry. Then, some hours after having written the poem, he read it in front of an audience at Wagner College and people liked it. It is an “I do this, I do that” poem, in which the writer enumerates what he has done during the day.

The poem begins with the announcement that actress Lana Turner has collapsed but O’Hara doesn’t specify what has happened to her. Then, the poet talks about the weather and says that while he was trotting along, it started to rain and snow. The fact that he is trotting instead of walking make me think about a very busy person in a very big city such as New York, where everybody is in a hurry. And now, a pronoun “you” appears. The speaker has an argument with someone about the weather but we don’t know who this “you” is. A friend? A lover? Then, we learn that the speaker was going to meet this unidentified person when it started to rain and snow. And there was another difficulty: the traffic was as bad as the weather.

Then, while the speaker was trying to meet the unknown person, he read a headline in a newspaper. Line 11 is like line 1 but there’s a difference. “Lana Turner has collapsed!” is written in capital letters in line 11. I think that O’Hara tried to imitate the newspaper’s style by doing this. After that, the speaker compares Hollywood, the place where Lana Turner lives, with New York, the place where he lives. We can say that there is a hyperbole here because although it is true that in California hardly ever snows, it’s an exaggeration to say that it never rains there. It seems that the writer wants to highlight the differences between the place where he lives and the place where Lana Turner lives.

Finally, the writer compares himself to Lana Turner. He says that although he has been to lots of parties and done “disgraceful” things, he has never collapsed. Here, we can assume that Lana Turner collapsed after a party (at the beginning of the poem we didn’t have any clues). In the last line, the speaker doesn’t address to an unidentified person but to Lana Turner directly. I found the final line hilarious (I am not the only one, I found this recording on O’Hara’s website , it was recorded at Lockwood Memorial Library in Buffalo on September 25 1964 and you can hear the audience’s laughs at the end). It seems that O’Hara likes Lana Turner but, at the same time, he is tired of her scandals. It is important to mention that in the last line there is a “we”. I think this “we” includes people who are fond of celebrities like Lana Turner.
I found some similarities and differences between this poem and "The Day Lady Died". In both poems, which belong to the type are "I do this, I do that", an ordinary and routinary day is interrupted by something that happened to a famous person. However, Lana Turner is mentioned thrice in the poem while Billie Holiday is never mentioned although the writer gives clues to make us realize he is talking about her. "The Day Lady Died" is a heartbreaking elegy. We can see that O'Hara is really apalled by Holiday's death. He's so sad that he can't even say her name. Holiday’s death turned an ordinary day into a memorable day, that's why he can remember everything he has done with details. Nevertheless, he doesn't seem to be very worried about Turner, in fact, there’s a humorous effect in the last line. It can even be considered derisive.

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