I don’t watch tv often, but when I do I watch Mad Men. A few years back when watching the season premiere of Season Two, I was surprised to hear Don Draper conclude the episode with a miniature poetry VoiceOver. At the time I really wasn’t all that interested in poetry, but something about the words resonated with me. Below are the three stanzas that Don recites in the episode For Those Who Think Young.
Forth section of “Mayakovsky”(From O’Hara’s collection of poems titled Meditations in an Emergency…Aka:The book in Don Draper’s hands next to his lifeblood—-an Old Fashioned)
Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again,
and interesting, and modern.
The country is grey and
brown and white in trees,
snows and skies of laughter
always diminishing, less funny
not just darker, not just grey.
It may be the coldest day of
the year, what does he think of
that? I mean, what do I? And if I do,
perhaps I am myself again.
I can’t tell you what this poem means in absolute terms, but what I can say is that that these few lines made me realize the natural sincere beauty that poetry is able to achieve. None of the words O’Hara uses is complex, but the way he combines them is. Take “catastrophe of my personality” or how the sky becomes “laughter always diminishing.” These are phrases that at face value are meaningless in their absurdity, and yet the moment you dismiss them, you realize their inherent truth and how the catastrophe of a personality resonates with anyone who has ever asked the question: who am I?
Of course it didn’t hurt that John Hamm was reading O’Hara (can we somehow appoint him to be some kind of world wide poetry ambassador?), but hearing O’Hara’s words for the first time essentially hooked me on poetry. For an undisclosed amount of time, this blog will be focused on the life and poetry of Frank O’Hara. Along the way, if you guys have any favorite O’Hara poems, let me know and I’ll post them for your viewing pleasure and perhaps *gasp*…we could maybe talk about them?