Ohara’s discovery of “personism”

Frank Ohara’s “Personism: A Manifesto” was enjoyable for many reasons. Trying to tie his ideas and his poetic style together seemed difficult at first because the transition in his poetry for me was unclear hard to follow. In his manifesto, he talks about how poetry shouldn’t be pushed on anyone and that “forcefeeding leads to excessive thinness”, meaning readers rarely get intellectually stimulated or grow as a result of reading poetry that is pushed upon them; and “if they don’t need poetry bully for them.” He also discusses how emotion between two people should be expressed verbally face to face rather than hiding behind abstract poetry. “If you’re going to buy a pair of pants you want them to be tight enough so everyone will want to go to bed with you”. I love that, get to the point. That’s my one hangup about alot of poetry I read, I lose track of the message in the language.

According to Ohara, “Abstraction involves personal removal by the poet”, therefore giving the reader no sense of the poet. He believes poetry is art and emotion, and should only concern the relationship between the artist and the art (in his case the poet and the poem). Whether or not the reader learns from his words, or whether or not there is a reader isn’t Ohara’s concern. His work is done if he grows the process of his writing, and thus he discovers “personism”. After reading, “Personism: A Manifesto”, I was pumped to grab a hold of his poetry, but just as he preaches, my relationship with the poetry has nothing to do with his. Sadly, I became lost in Ohara as I have been lost before. Whitman and Ohara both supported the freedom of individual expression, but Ohara was mainly focused on the art rather than the connection with his readers. Whitman wished to inspire.

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