“To mash together all the noises in a white nutrition”: A Frank O’Hara/Drake Mash-up by Cassandra Gillig


Ever wonder what Frank O’Hara would sound like quietly rapping over a funky backing track?  Wonder no more.  The poet Cassandra Gillig has posted an unusual and fun mash-up that combines Frank O’Hara’s voice reading his poem “Ode to Joy” with music by Drake, the rap artist and singer.

 (If you want to follow along with O’Hara’s words, here’s the poem). 

O'Hara 1

Somehow it all works together quite wonderfully — right down to the poem’s repeated refrain of “no more dying,” which now sounds like a chorus.

Gillig has also mashed-up some other poems with contemporary pop songs — for example, here’s Alice Notley’s “At Night the States” mixed with Justin Timberlake, and another combines Beyoncé with Hannah Weiner).

On her blog, Gillig writes:

I don’t want the “mash-ups” I’m posting to be seen as even remotely irreverent. I think that pop music has a way of capturing our emotions in their most palatable form & placing pop songs behind poems can guide us incorrectly or correctly but I’m hoping I’m going in a correct direction.  Beyond that, I think the musicality of these poets is often ignored & we so often forget that poetry can exist beyond the page.  Hmmm.

Gillig’s intriguing project and her use of O’Hara’s poetry made me wonder about whether he ever uses the word “mash” in his poems.  A quick search led me to these lines in his Collected Poems, from the little-known piece “The State of Washington,” which seem pleasantly appropriate:

                                      to mash
together all the noises in a white nutrition
and wear the fur when it comes alive

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