This article illuminates the way American poet Frank O'Hara (1926–1966) develops Romantic tropes of musical virtuosity. While the term “virtuosity” has been used to decry O'Hara's work, scholarship has not acknowledged the extent to which his poetry, via elliptical hints to Keats and Liszt, could partake in a nineteenth-century discourse about this aesthetic mode. Virtuosity highlights a relationship between performance and form; interaction of these forces is what a strain of O'Hara's poems examines and more broadly what his poetics exemplify. The article argues that his poems are piqued by pianistic virtuosity and its problems, rather than a victim of them.
Frank O'Hara's Virtuosity
Anne Lovering Rounds is a poet and assistant professor of English at Hostos Community College, a campus of the City University of New York in the South Bronx. Her work has appeared in publications including Hartskill Review, Journal of Beat Studies, Literary Imagination, New Writing, Proteus, and Text Matters. Her first poetry collection, Variations in an Emergency, received the 2014 Cathlamet Prize from Ravenna Press and is forthcoming with the press in 2017.
Anne Lovering Rounds; Frank O'Hara's Virtuosity. Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal 1 February 2017; 100 (1): 29–53. doi: https://doi.org/10.5325/soundings.100.1.0029
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