Meditations in an Emergency – Frank O’Hara (1957)

1960s: Days of Rage

“The title poses an immediate challenge: in an emergency, common sense tells us, you call 911 or cry out for help. How can there be time for meditation? And indeed both Joan Mitchell and her great friend Frank O’Hara, for whose poem, reproduced in the memorial volume In Memory of My Feelings, this color lithograph was produced, were devoted to action painting — to gesture, immediacy, process, improvisation — rather than the more careful consideration that we associate 
with meditation. In the dozens of letters O’Hara wrote Mitchell 
between the mid-fifties and his tragic death in 1966 at the age of forty, it is the present that counts, the immediate moment. ‘Here 
I am,’ one of O’Hara’s early letters to Mitchell begins, ‘watching the slowly turning reflection of a record disc on the ceiling.’ And yet such moments trigger intense, if less than orderly, self-
reflection. One of O’Hara’s few prose poems, the…

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