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A Question Mark Above the Sun: Documents on the Mystery Surrounding a Famous Poem "By" Frank O'Hara [Paperback]

Eric Lorberer , David Koepsell , Kent Johnson

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Starcherone Books; 2 edition (16 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0983740550
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983740551
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,376,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kent Johnson, Literary Detective 18 Oct 2012
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is one of the more challenging to read yet one of the finest examples of poetic license and excavation of facts and findings and ultimate rights to authorship - the gift to the literary public by Starcherone Press, Ted Pelton editor. Controversial since it first appeared and continuing to receive as much adulation as irritation, this striking expose of information about authorship as written by Kent Johnson who proposes that one of Frank O'Hara's best known poems was actually written by his close associate Kenneth Koch. But before commenting on the book, it seems only fair to present the poem in question in a condensed 9non-formated) version for the reader to be reminded:

A TRUE ACCOUNT OF TALKING TO THE SUN ON FIRE ISLAND
The Sun woke me this morning loud 
and clear, saying "Hey! I've been 
trying to wake you up for fifteen 
minutes. Don't be so rude, you are 
only the second poet I've ever chosen 
to speak to personally so why aren't you more attentive? If I could 
burn you through the window I would 
to wake you up. I can't hang around 
here all day."

"Sorry, Sun, I stayed up late last night talking to Hal."

"When I woke up Mayakovsky he was 
a lot more prompt" the Sun said 
petulantly. "Most people are up 
already waiting to see if I'm going 
to put in an appearance." I tried to apologize "I missed you yesterday."
"That's better" he said. "I didn't 
know you'd come out." "You may be 
wondering why I've come so close?" 
"Yes" I said beginning to feel hot 
wondering if maybe he wasn't burning me 
anyway. 

"Frankly I wanted to tell you 
I like your poetry. I see a lot 
on my rounds and you're okay. You may 
not be the greatest thing on earth, but 
you're different. Now, I've heard some 
say you're crazy, they being excessively 
calm themselves to my mind, and other 
crazy poets think that you're a boring 
reactionary. Not me. just keep on 
like I do and pay no attention. You'll 
find that people always will complain 
about the atmosphere, either too hot 
or too cold too bright or too dark, days too short or too long. 

If you don't appear at all one day they think you're lazy or dead. Just keep right on, I like it. and don't worry about your lineage 
poetic or natural. The Sun shines on 
the jungle, you know, on the tundra 
the sea, the ghetto. Wherever you were 
I knew it and saw you moving. I was waiting 
for you to get to work. 

And now that you 
are making your own days, so to speak, 
even if no one reads you but me 
you won't be depressed. Not 
everyone can look up, even at me. It 
hurts their eyes."
"Oh Sun, I'm so grateful to you!"

"Thanks and remember I'm watching. It's 
easier for me to speak to you out 
here. I don't have to slide down 
between buildings to get your ear. 
I know you love Manhattan, but 
you ought to look up more often.

And
always embrace things, people earth 
sky stars, as I do, freely and with 
the appropriate sense of space. That 
is your inclination, known in the heavens 
and you should follow it to hell, if 
necessary, which I doubt. Maybe we'll 
speak again in Africa, of which I too 
am specially fond. Go back to sleep now 
Frank, and I may leave a tiny poem 
in that brain of yours as my farewell."

"Sun, don't go!" I was awake at last. "No, go I must, they're calling
me."
"Who are they?"

Rising he said "Some
day you'll know. They're calling to you
too." Darkly he rose, and then I slept. Frank O'Hara

In Johnson's introduction he sates `What you have in your hands is a kind of thought-experiment. It proffers the idea that a radical, secret gesture of poetic mourning and love was carried out by Kenneth Koch in memory of his close friend Frank O'Hara...The proposal I set forward here, nevertheless, is likely to make some readers annoyed, perhaps even indignant. Some already are. A few fellow writers, even, have worked hard through legal courses to block this book's publication.' This brilliantly illuminating book, with fine introductions and comments from such scholars as Eric Lorberer, David Koepsell, Joshua Kotin and Ron Paste add to the importance of the analysis o the book and the poem in question. Koepsell states `Johnson upends and dispels all the traditional notions of authorship and its role in creation, scandalizing many in the process.' "Johnson's book celebrates the unbound word, our Promethean glory as creators free of the debt of credit. Hi sown act of creation, obscured as truths wrapped in fictions, touches upon the duty and ethos of the author and audience, spinning together, weaving something beautiful and alive, new, and unchained.'

And after the very fine introductions to Kent Johnson's gifts we launch into one of the more experimental treatises about O'Hara, Koch, authorship, elegies, and thoughts that brought the detective Johnson to make his controversial investigation and proof. AS Johnson state, `For what could be deeper, more poignant and perpetual testimony to measure of his person and work than that a poem may well have been written for him by another, as if BY him, in mourning, love and homage - a poem in which the departed speaks through the dark Sun of his own death and from the very place he will die? And what could be more apropos, than the unanswered - perhaps ultimately unanswerable - mysteries about its making? Would O'Hara mind the mystery, if the poem is actually his? I dare suspect he wouldn't.'

This book, both in content and in the clever layout (multiple typefaces and fonts of varying sizes enhancing the poetic content of the book), is an artwork unto itself. This is sophisticated literary investigation and critique and should be read by every writer and by those who love the works of O'Hara and Koch - and Kent Johnson! Grady Harp, October 12
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars hahahahahaha 9 Feb 2013
By Charles John Morello III - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
funniest book ever and true to boot. brings an era of american poetry to its knees while simultaneously stepping on the heads of those who were its members in order to lift a new era into vision.
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