The Eyes

The Eyes

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Lana Turner Has Collapsed! By Frank O'Hara

Lana Turner Has Collapsed! is one of Frank O’Hara’s funniest and best-loved poems. With its campy treatment of a tabloid headline in February 1962 about a glamorous celebrity facing adversity, it’s often cited as an example of O’Hara’s embrace of pop culture and his affection for the cinema and its stars. O'Hara would use his lunch hour to compose poetry, often dropping into the Olivetti typewriter showroom to tap them out.  This is one of my favorites.

Lana Turner has collapsed!
I was trotting along and suddenly
it started raining and snowing
and you said it was hailing
but hailing hits you on the head
hard so it was really snowing and
raining and I was in such a hurry
to meet you but the traffic
was acting exactly like the sky
and suddenly I see a headline
there is no snow in Hollywood
there is no rain in California
I have been to lots of parties
and acted perfectly disgraceful
but I never actually collapsed
oh Lana Turner we love you get up

From Lunch Poems by Frank O'Hara
© 1964
City Lights Books

There is a wonderful audio recording of O'Hara reading this poem in late 1964 on the website linked here. While O'Hara's poetry is generally autobiographical, they read more like a diary, and tend to be based on his observations of New York life rather than exploring his past. In his introduction to The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara, Donald Allen says "that Frank O’Hara tended to think of his poems as a record of his life is apparent in much of his work.”

In the early morning hours of July 24, 1966, O'Hara was struck by a jeep on a Fire Island beach, after the beach taxi in which he had been riding with a group of friends broke down in the dark. He died the next day of a ruptured liver. O'Hara was only 40 years old.

Portrait and Poem Painting | 1961
Larry Rivers and Frank O'Hara
Oil on Canvas | 36 in. x 36 in.

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