Friday, July 11, 2008

Why I am not a painter, a poem by Frank O'Hara.

My wife is a painter (see and I love (and sometimes write) poetry. So I like Frank O'Hara's poem because it brings the two together. It also reflects the complicated and unexpected nature of the creative process. I've been thinking about this recently because I believe that managers will need to be much more creative, like artists, as the business environment becomes faster, more turbulent and less predictable. I'll write more about this next week.

I am not a painter, I am a poet.
Why? I think I would rather be
a painter, but I am not. Well,

for instance, Mike Goldberg
is starting a painting. I drop in.
'Sit down and have a drink.' I look
up. 'You have sardines in it.'
'Yes, it needed something there.'
'Oh.' I go and the days go by
and I drop in again. The painting
is going on, and I go, and the days
go by. I drop in. The painting is
finished. 'Where's the sardines?'
All that's left is just
letters, 'It was too much,' Mike says.

But me? One day I am thinking of
a color: orange. I write a line
about orange. Pretty soon it is a
whole page of words, not lines.
Then another page. There should be
so much more, not of orange, of
words, of how terrible orange is

and life. Days go by. It is even in
prose, I am a real poet. My poem
is finished and I haven't mentioned
orange yet. It's twelve poems, I call
it Oranges. And one day in a gallery
I see Mike's painting, called Sardines.

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