In celebration of National Poetry Month, every day we're posting a new poem from the spoken-word album Poetic License, a three-CD set that features one hundred performers of stage and screen reading one hundred poems selected by the actors themselves. From Shakespeare and Dickinson to Lucille Clifton and Allen Ginsberg, the lineup spans contemporary American poetry and classics of the Western canon.
Frank O'Hara (1926–1966) wrote nine collections of poetry—three of them published posthumously—including Lunch Poems (City Lights Books, 1964) and Meditations in an Emergency (Grove Press, 1957), and like his contemporary and fellow poet of the New York School John Ashbery, he also wrote art criticism and plays. Fostering associations with painters such as Jasper Johns and Jackson Pollack, O'Hara worked as a curator and writer at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City until his death at the age of forty.
Chandler Williams recently appeared in the play In the Next Room (or the vibrator play) by MacArthur "Genius" fellow and Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Sarah Ruhl. He also has played roles in revivals of Mary Stuart and Translations on Broadway.
"To the Harbormaster" by Frank O'Hara, from Poetic License produced by Glen Roven. Copyright © 2010 by GPR Records. Used with permission of GPR Records.
Need a dose of inspiration for your writing routine this April? Take our Poetry Challenge and try out a new writing prompt or poetry-related assignment every day during National Poetry Month.
In the second half of the twentieth century, a number of poets’ theater programs, including the Poets’ Theatre, which was established in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1950, and staged plays by John Ashbery, James Merrill, Frank O’Hara, and Richard Wilbur, provided venues for work written by poets for the stage. Now, a new generation of poets’ theater programs are raising their curtains for plays by poets.
Untitled by Lamar Peterson is one of twenty works showcased in Poets on Painters, an exhibit at the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University that pairs up paintings with the poems that inspired them.