July 17, 2012 |
On this day in 1959, Billie Holiday died in Manhattan's Metropolitan Hospital of heart failure brought on by alcoholism and drug abuse. Only 44, she was ravaged by her addictions, but even in her later years, she could deliver a song like no one else. As Studs Terkel recalls of a performance three years earlier: “Billie's voice was shot, though the gardenia in her hair was as fresh as usual. Ben Webster, for so long a big man on tenor, was backing her. He was having it rough, too. Yet they transcended.
July 16, 1999 |
For art, eclecticism is a virtue. The capacity to acknowledge the worthwhile coexistence of multiple aesthetic doctrines and artistic points of view--even if they might seem contradictory--keeps systems open and curiosity alive. Eclectic viewpoints are encountered more often in today's internationalized art world than they have been at most times in the 20th century. But there have been exceptions. Frank O'Hara's (1926-1966) was one.
June 27, 1993 |
It's not easy to find biographies of writers that describe the life and the writing equally well. "City Poet" provides an intelligent, balanced, readable account of a writer's life and milieu even as it illuminates Frank O'Hara's fabulous, unsung poetry. An accomplished poet and fiction writer himself, living and working in O'Hara's beloved Big Apple, Brad Gooch proves an able choice for this unique poet's biographer.
March 8, 1996 |
More 'Postman' Praise: The Academy of American Poets has given Miramax Films and its Oscar-nominated movie "The Postman (Il Postino)" a Frank O'Hara Citation recognizing "the tremendous contribution the film and its distributor have made to the appreciation of poetry in America."
August 10, 2008 |
In a bit of poetic justice, it took a hit TV show to boost poetry sales. A book of poems featured prominently in AMC's widely lauded "Mad Men" sent viewers scrambling to find copies of Frank O'Hara's "Meditations in an Emergency" after the second-season premiere July 27. Google reports the book of verse shot to No. 1 on its "Hot Trends" list for that day and is out of stock on Amazon.com.
September 16, 2009 |
Jim Carroll, who died Friday of a heart attack at 60 in Manhattan, was a legend by the time he was 13. That's when the poet Ted Berrigan took him to visit Jack Kerouac, who took a look at some of Jim's writing and said, "Jim Carroll writes better prose than 89% of the novelists working today." But I was drawn at least as much by his basketball legend: a kid who grew up on the Lower East Side -- Jim said his dad had tended bar for bootlegger Dutch Schultz -- who moved with his family to Inwood at the northern tip of Manhattan when the neighborhood was still Irish, got a scholarship to the elite Trinity School, went on to become the only white kid to make all-city, then turned down myriad college scholarships to return to the Lower East Side to shoot junk and pursue the cruel gods of poetry.