Frank O'Hara: Poems

Frank O’Hara’s Revelation of the Similarities between Painting and Poetry

Frank O’Hara’s “Why I Am Not a Painter” constantly draws parallels between painting and poetry. O’Hara uses the title to set up these parallels. Next, he proceeds to use the first stanza to catch the reader’s interest in why, in fact, he is not a painter. The second stanza draws the reader into the world of a painter. Finally, the third stanza enters O’Hara’s mind as a poet, allowing the reader to draw comparisons between a painter and a poet. O’Hara uses a flow from his title through his three stanzas to capture the reader’s mind, forcing a question to arise: what is the difference between painting and poetry? O’Hara’s purpose in writing “Why I Am Not a Painter” is to show that painters and poets reveal the same ideas through different methods, and, in essence, poetry is painting on paper while painting is poetry on canvas.

It is appropriate to follow O’Hara’s poem from the title through the stanzas in order, because he uses a very precise style to show his ideas. “Why I Am Not a Painter” is, essentially, a logical argument for the similarities between poets and painters that begins with the title of the poem. In titling the poem “Why I Am Not a Painter,” O’Hara forces his reader to invest interest in discovering why, in fact,...

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