Frank O'Hara on Mad Men

Nice to see the late great poet Frank O'Hara getting some exposure on a popular show like Mad Men. In the season two premiere, ad man Don Draper can be seen reading from O'Hara's Meditations in an Emergency and we're also treated to a voice-over of Draper reading an excerpt from O'Hara's poem "Mayakovsky". Sales for O'Hara's book have already skyrocketed after the Mad Men episode. Does this mean TV shows and movies are going to scramble to include more modern and contemporary verse for the masses? Sigh. Probably not but it's nice to imagine.

From The National Post:

AMC's buzzed-about drama Mad Men launched its second season last night. Aside from the attention to detail, clever writing and sharp acting, one of the things that stands out about the series – and makes it sing – is its subtle nods to literature.

[Meditations in an Emergency] is introduced in the episode as Draper sits beside a "boheme" in a New York City bar (and it's noted in the scene that O'Hara wrote half the book in the bar). Both men are alone, and when Draper asks if the tome is any good, the other man looks over his sharply tailored suit and remarks: "I don't think you'd like it".

But Draper goes on to buy and read the book. The episode closes as Draper mails the book to a mysterious someone with an attached note. Over the montage runs Draper's voiceover reading a passage of O'Hara's poem "Mayakovsky":

Now I am quietly waiting for

the catastrophe of my personality

to seem beautiful again,

and interesting, and modern.

The country is grey and

brown and white in trees,

snows and skies of laughter

always diminishing, less funny

not just darker, not just grey.

It may be the coldest day of

the year, what does he think of

that? I mean, what do I? And if I do,

perhaps I am myself again.

More here.

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