Frank O’Hara, New York poet, wrote in the moment. He responded to the deaths of well-known celebrities – if his poems had anything, they had “immediacy”. But this dashed off almost fresh from your journal page feel, paid tribute to performers whose fame would carry on long past their death: James Dean, Billie Holiday.
Writing to mourn
My husband wrote a series of memories about his mother’s mother, after her death. “I remember …..” It was not only a beautiful way of recollecting the exact person and places he knew, drawing a portrait in words, it was a comfort that this woman was remembered.
Write a poem or paint a picture for someone who has died, as a way to remember them. The longest obituaries often happen in newspapers, who have more space than TV’s tiny snippet at the end of the news. If you want inspiration, look in one – each day has an amazing life commemorated. I personally especially value “the Telegraph” of London UK.
The especially creative flavour of Frank O’Hara’s poems is that he and the exact places and events of that day are present, full of life and detail, as a background to hearing the news of the famous person’s death, or commemorations of them.