Hyperscapes in the Poetry of Frank O'Hara: Difference, Homosexuality, Topography

Hyperscapes in the Poetry of Frank O'Hara: Difference, Homosexuality, Topography

Hyperscapes in the Poetry of Frank O'Hara: Difference, Homosexuality, Topography

Hyperscapes in the Poetry of Frank O'Hara: Difference, Homosexuality, Topography

Synopsis

Frank O'Hara's poetry evokes a specific era and location: New York in the fifties and early sixties. This is a pre-computer age of typewritten manuscripts, small shops and lunch hours: it is also an age of gay repression, accelerating consumerism and race riots. Hazel Smith suggests that the location and dislocation of the cityscape creates "hyperscapes" in the poetry of Frank O'Hara. The hyperscape is a postmodern site characterized by difference, breaking down unified concepts of text, city, subject and art, and remolding them into new textual, subjective and political spaces. This book theorizes the process of disruption and re-figuration which constitutes the hyperscape, and celebrates its radicality.

Excerpt

Hyperscapes in the Poetry of Frank O'Hara: Difference, Homosexuality, Topography results from my long and ongoing fascination with the work of Frank O'Hara. This began when I first came across O'Hara's work in 1980 in Donald's Allen's anthology, The New American Poetry. My admiration for the poetry has remained constant, though its primary focus has changed over the years. This book is a testimony to the many different aspects of Frank O'Hara's work which have delighted and stimulated me, ranging from the technical through to the cultural.

Initially I approached O'Hara as a poet, musician and general reader, but subsequently I wrote about him as an academic. This nexus of different perspectives informs my writing about him and I feel it has broadened my view of his work. the reading, application and extension of cultural theory grew out of my academic research and forms the backbone of this book. However, my interest in technical aspects of O'Hara's work, his creative processes, and his relationship to the other arts stem, in part, from my own preoccupations as a poet and practising musician. Some of the theoretical frameworks I have constructed also arose, in part, out of my enthusiasm for applying creative procedures to academic writing.

My work on O'Hara began with a Ph.D. thesis, completed in 1988, ‘The Sense of Neurotic Coherence: Structural Reversals in the Poetry of Frank O'Hara’. However, most of the material in the current book is new, and that which remains from the original thesis has been substantially rethought and rewritten. a small amount of the material in the book has been published in much earlier forms. Chapter 3 appeared originally as an article (Smith 1995) and two sections of Chapter 6 as a book chapter (Smith 1989). Both have been substantially reworked. Chapter 2 developed out of a conference paper which inspired the framework for the whole book (Smith 1997).

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