Today’s prompt was to write a “New York School” poem using the recipe found here. The New York School is the name by which a group of poets that all lived in New York in the 1950s and 1960s. The most well-known members are Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, and Kenneth Koch. Their poems are actually very different from one another, but many “New York School” poems display a sort of conversational tone, references to friends and to places in and around New York, humor, inclusion of pop culture, and a sense of the importance of art (visual, poetic, and otherwise). Here’s a fairly representative example.
In following the recipe, you can include as many (or as few) of the listed elements as you wish.
(I suggest you click on the hyperlinks above to better understand the poem below—unless you are such a scholar of poetry that you already know what a New York poem is.)
A New York Sorta Poem
Okay, Dear Readers.
Linda Crosfield and Ogginblog and InfiniteZip
and all you poets and internet marketers
out in Cyberspace who deign to visit
my humble blog,
I am lying abed in San Juan Cosala,
Mexico. It is a fresh day and
thermal water spurts and sputters
into my pool.
This is not fucking New York
but neither is it fucking small town South Dakota,
population 700 and more people than trees.
(Pardon me, okcforgottenman, RepoComedy and Brian Marggraf,
since I have grown dependent on these daily prompts,
I am a prisoner to profanity this day, as it
is a vital ingredient of the recipe.)
It is Monday, April 21, 2014—my thirteenth year
in this same house on a mountain
over a dying lake.
Now, I want to ask you, Ann Garcia
and Patti A. and Shawn L. Bird,
have I ever told you about the day
my neighbors streamed down from the hill
to dance on the dome of my house?
Neighbors had complained about children
who had climbed over the wall and walked
up the outside steps to the upstairs patio and then
run up the dome to jump and stomp.
When they ran home to complain to parents,
the parents came, and older brothers and sisters
and an uncle, and in solidarity, they all climbed over the wall
to ascend the dome and dance and stomp and jump up and down,
but the bricks held and the dome did not suffer
as they faced off the neighbor and danced.
This was before I bought the house, when it was
sitting idle, but it was part of my house’s history
that it lived before it began to live my life.
Those children now grown and departed,
only my dog, Frida the Akita, rests or stands barking on that dome
so that she has grown in fame among passersby and
I have become the owner of the “dome dog”
more famous than me, like having a notorious
older brother or sister, I am more a part of her
identity than she mine.
But I digress (with a fine excuse for doing so—part of the
recipe) and would get back to the point
if there were a point other than using
profanity and giving numerous references
to this place as far from New York City as one could get.
(Actually, that in itself is not precisely true. Antarctica
is further away, and probably Katmandu.)
Which is a big coincidence, since the message
that just popped up on my screen is from my friend
Patty, who worked in Antarctica, and so is an authority
on the subject of being far from New York City, but being
born in Wyoming, was an expert on this subject anyway,
from birth. (And coincidentally, again, today is her birthday,
so I wish I could send her a giant macaroon like the ones
we bought at the beach in La Manzanilla just a few weeks ago.)
So dear reader, Brian Moore or Kavalcade Krew,
had you ever heard of New York Poetry and if not,
have you made any sense of what I’ve written so far?
One hour ago, I was sleeping and I, too, had never heard
of this curious genre. Two days ago I awakened
to an earthquake’s vibrations and then today,
I find this weird recipe for poetry awaiting me as a prompt
and I do not know which has been more the more discombobulating of the two.
And dear readers, Lena or eyewillnot cry,
Are you old enough to have heard of Glen Yarbrough
and if you have, would you be surprised to hear
he rearranged my sound system and offered to record
the musical versions of my poetry to include with my book
and would have done so if they hadn’t messed up his
vocal cords in surgery? This is the only famous person
I’ve met in Mexico, except for Barbara Kingsolver
who wrote me a letter in green ink.
Or perhaps I am imagining the color of the ink. I have
that letter somewhere, buried in a file or a pile.
Pop culture I may have to leave out of my poem,
unless you will accept my mention of my poetry group,
The Not Yet Dead Poets. We have three Pops and two
Moms in the group which makes us sound more like
a singing group from the seventies. And in not being
dead, we sing of life. Or I could mention the poetry wall
near the malecón in the pueblo down below. With poetry
all in espanol (which isn’t capitalized in Spanish),
I think I should add a short poem or two in English
(which isn’t capitalized in Spanish, either, so pardon me for inconsistency)
to declare solidarity with Mario Puglisi or Isidro or Eduardo
or any of the other fine artists and poets of San Juan Cosala
who have welcomed me and included me in their shows
for which I am grateful as it makes me just a tad less gringa
and a bit more cabrona, which they assure me is not a
derisive label when spoken in the correct context and tone of voice.
So, robert okaji, fine poet, and Andrea Giang of Cooking with a Wallflower,
are you following this prompt
and, if so, is your poem getting to be as long as mine? I have
this feeling that the real New York poets didn’t have a recipe
to follow and that their poetry was more like discovering
leftovers in the fridge and making whatever they could,
I feel this poem coming to an end
before all ingredients are added to the brew,
but since there is a tad more room left in my poetry bowl,
I would like to dedicate this puzzling poem
to Robert Creeley, Ron Padgett and Dorothea Lasky;
and to Thom Donovan I say,
“Like most renowned chefs, I imagine you have left one vital ingredient
out of your recipe that you may shine above your imitators
and be the only one able to create a perfect dish.
And so I lay the oddness of this poem and it’s probable failure to congeal,
at your feet, and in doing so, say it’s not my fault.
I followed what instructions you gave.
Perhaps the fault was in the mixing of my metaphors
or my obvious lack of sexual innuendo.
My failure to mention genitals or body parts
or to make drug references, legal or illegal.
Believe me, all of these elements are present in Mexico,
sometimes to an extreme degree, but that being true,
I would state the obvious in mentioning them,
and so I think I’ll pour this conglomeration
into a pan and put it on WordPress and Facebook and Twitter
to bake and then wait to see if it will rise.”
If you have made it this far, please tell me how it
tastes and take a chunk extra to wrap in a napkin
and put under your pillow tonight and perhaps
if I’ve done the recipe right, it will attract a real poem
which you will dream and remember afterwards
and bring into the world.