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Why I Am Not a Painter Essay

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David Caplan is a doctoral candidate at the University of Virginia, writing a dissertation on contemporary poetry and poetic form. In the following essay, he considers how O 'Hara 's poem relates to other poems about paintings and questions the relationship it establishes with the reader.

Frank O'Hara's "Why I Am Not a Painter" continues a long and distinguished line of ekphrasis poetry. From the Greek word for "description," this category includes poems that describe other works of art. This tradition dates to classical antiquity; the most famous articulation of its guiding principle remains Horace's dictum, "ut pictora poesis": "as a painting, so a poem." As this comparison suggests, this position stresses a basic similarity between poetry and painting. They are "sister arts" which inspire each other.

A host of modern poets have composed works under these guiding assumptions. O'Hara's friend, John Ashbery, wrote one of the most...

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This section contains 1,058 words
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Poetry for Students
Why I Am Not a Painter from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.