Well, I’m about to find out.
Because today, I’m going to the Museum of Modern Art with Frank O’Hara.
Why you may ask? Well, sometime around 3.30am today, I realised that I was having a panic. Six days in Seoul and now only three in New York and I was getting profoundly agoraphobic, starting to create lists for activities I could never possibly do, giving that items on said list included such mundanities as “get the carpet steam cleaned” in the house I’m over 9,000kms away from. That said, I believe if obsessive compulsives were looking for a place to call spiritual home, New York city might be it, because it’s definitely a place that says “go, go, go”.
And there are a goodly number of places to go. But I need a filter. Either that, or both me and the city will never sleep.
I’ve often liked the idea of poetry as a temporal map, a way of charting and creating sense of a particular place in time, as opposed to space. The snapshot of place and time is an element of what I found so inspiring about putting together the Peril Map, and is intrinsically a part of the Melbourne Poetry Map. But I’ve never really considered poetry that good a way to get around, I mean the MPM is pretty much a guarantee for getting lost, although that’s partly the pleasure.
I won’t pretend to know Frank O’Hara or his work deeply, but I have always loved its vernacular, sardonic and contemporary – and quintessentially American voice, Lana Turner collapsing! There’s a romanticism to imagining Frank sneaking out on his lunch breaks from the MOMA to write poetry, where he started selling postcards and eventually worked as a curator. I held a beautiful reissue copy of In Memory of My Feelings yesterday at the lovely library space of Poets House. And I love going places with a nice gay poet, so Frank seems as good a New York tour guide as any.