The Internet is a bit of an Alice in Wonderland experience – walking along towards one thing and then finding oneself falling down a rabbit hole into a passage of wonderfulness and adventure.
So, today, in looking for stuff online about the New York modern poet, Frank O’Hara, I stumbled onto a good podcast on how poems can be friends. It’s recorded at Latitude Festival and you can find it on Podcast: The Poetry Exchange, “Special Episode Latitude 2019 with Nadine Shah and Hannah Jane Walker.
Nadine has a short poem by Philip Larkin, which she has learnt by heart and recited to herself and to others – friends or even a stranger who is upset and in tears, in the queue for the toilet.
How is this poem a friend? It’s a companion which continues to give and is something she feels she can give away to others.
She tells her story around this poem with such great frankness and humour that it would be a shame to tell it here – better to urge you to listen to the podcast itself.
Poetry vs Song Lyrics
As a songwriter, she makes an interesting point: that when you hear song lyrics (by a singer/songwriter), they’re heard in the writer’s own voice. But when you have a poem, you get the opportunity to put it into your own voice – “It’s quite empowering putting the words in your own voice”.
But what about Frank O’Hara…
may enquire a New York poetry fan, impatiently, from the audience.
For pieces about Frank O’Hara – I’m not ignoring him – there are 2 previous posts on this blog:
a poem reading recorded on film (which is tremendous fun and easy to understand)