If you haven’t checked it out yet, Ours Poetica is a great video series, produced by the Poetry Foundation and the poet Paige Lewis, which posts a poem read by a poet, writer, or artist, three times a week.
This week the poet Jenny Xie reads Frank O’Hara’s wonderful short poem “My Heart.” O’Hara’s defiant declaration of non-conformity and artistic and personal independence has long been a favorite of mine. I even used a line from the poem — “I want to be / at least as alive as the vulgar” — in the title of one my first published essays (about O’Hara and the movies). And I remember how happy and surprised I was when it was included in the “Poetry in Motion” series, a program which creates posters of poems and places them in New York City subways. Looking up during my long commute and seeing that poem adorning the grimy walls of the L train was an unexpected delight. My wife even tracked down the poster and bought a copy for me many years ago, and it’s been hanging in my office ever since.
Before she reads the poem, Xie says “I return to this poem for its celebration of the freedom to be a stranger to oneself,” which is a lovely way of putting it. Here’s her reading of the poem: