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Frank O'Hara, Channeled by Zadie Smith in the NYRB

Zadie Smith's talk on Obama and cultural multiplicity is all kinds of lovely. I especially like the way she worked in this poem by Frank O'Hara:

I am a Hittite in love with a horse

I don't know what blood's

in me I feel like an African prince I am a girl walking downstairs

in a red pleated dress with heels I am a champion taking a fall

I am a jockey with a sprained ass-hole I am the light mist

in which a face appears

and it is another face of blonde I am a baboon eating a banana

I am a dictator looking at his wife I am a doctor eating a child

and the child's mother smiling I am a Chinaman climbing a mountain

I am a child smelling his father's underwear I am an Indian

sleeping on a scalp

and my pony is stamping in

the birches,

and I've just caught sight of the

Niña, the Pinta and the Santa

Maria.

What land is this, so free? 

And here's O'Hara again, this time via Don Draper, the center of the universe that is Mad Men:



Lovely, lovely, lovely. And all of it, so true.
February 12th, 2009

Comments:

Comment #1 by Jen Deaderick on February 12, 2009 - 12:49pm

Reading Zadie Smith per the instructions of you and Hendrik Hertzberg, and good lord it is fantastic. Fantastic! I'm having to read it in bits, pausing in between bites to savour it. I want to marry her.

Comment #2 by Super Amanda on February 12, 2009 - 10:00pm

Zadie is the lady! I always love reading interviews with her in UK the papers.

Comment #3 by nicole on February 13, 2009 - 2:28pm

wow. i loved this piece. i totally understand so many things she talks about, from my own experience. thanks for sharing.

Comment #4 by Martine on February 15, 2009 - 12:03am

Yes! I so adore this talk. It was beautiful to listen to on here (http://media.nypl.org/live/smith_12_5_08.mp3) but even better to swim about with on the page.

Comment #5 by business valuations on April 18, 2011 - 8:33pm

It is a lovely poem to sing to the heart's content. It enables my heart to pour out the unfathomable feelings. The poem helps me to think about my people, my country and my being. It is really an inspiring post.

Comment #6 by anemia symptoms on May 6, 2011 - 2:36pm

Thanks for the video. Great piece!

Comment #7 by bed bug ny on June 12, 2011 - 1:46pm

I've felt very healing touch by the poem by zadie smith. Really, we miss a lot in our lives being busy in our rotten city lives. Life is mechanical with less and less feelings for these things.

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