At the library I read about Frank O’Hara’s life. I knew he died young (at 40) but I didn’t know that he was run down by a beach taxi on Fire Island. (Aside from Barthes, have any other famous writers been struck and killed by an automobile?) (Foucault was also hit by a car, but he survived and later remembered the incident fondly.) It wasn’t immediately known, when O’Hara died, just how prolific he was—he stuffed many of his poems into closets and drawers, and only rarely published. He worked as an assistant curator at the Museum of Modern Art (not formally trained—working his way up from ticketseller) but poetry was his life. It is refreshing to hear of a poet resisting scrambling and desperation, dedicated to the art but not consumed by it. That’s the kind of poet, and writer, I’d like to be: someone working silently and diligently and carving out space alongside a different kind of life—it suits me, and the work I’d like to do, best.
O’Hara was always surrounded by artists. He would go with other members of the New York school and sit in artist cafés and bars and write poetry while the artists argued and talked, his poems moving easily across many registers, high and low. At the library I shelved without listening to podcasts again, felt calm and fine working in the silence. I read about O’Hara’s life, revisited an essay by Anne Boyer, and wrote in a little journal I made out of scrap paper (a long time ago I had a habit of making these because of how cheaply they can be made and how easily they fit in your pocket). I felt like I was returning to something, an outright rejection of how I have otherwise misplaced my energies.
Writing daily, here and elsewhere, concentrating on observation and reflection, has helped return me to who I am. And running, a practice that I’d thought—for a long time—I would have to give up. My emotions are, generally, closer to the surface than they were just a few months ago. I notice where I am—even if, lately, that’s been anxious, it has been nice to give myself permission to feel that way. To not be so threatened by it, or by anything.
On Instagram someone says: “the full moon in Gemini, the last of the decade, is an opportunity to reset your karma. Now is the perfect time to shift your habits in the direction you’d like to go.” I don’t know about any of that, though I like thinking of the cosmos giving us an opportunity. I also like thinking of O’Hara at the bar writing poetry, and all of these changes that have been recently wrought in me, and thinking of 33 as the year of my conversion—when I shifted my habits, clarified them, and realized what I most need to be.