Brian Glavey on Frank O'Hara ("Having a Coke with You")
Close Readings: Episode 1
For the first episode of Close Readings, I talked with Brian Glavey about Frank O’Hara’s “Having a Coke with You,” one of the great love poems of the twentieth century. When I dreamt up this podcast, this was one of the conversations I knew I’d want to have. You can find the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.
Brian’s 2020 article in PMLA on “Having a Coke with You” is truly brilliant. And inspiring! It articulates an idea that I care so much about, but for which I never really had the words: “art enables the communion of more than one imagination, allowing one person’s existence to be colored by the dream of someone else’s knowledge” (1008). Or as he puts it a page later: “we deepen our aesthetic experience when we talk about it. The key to not wasting a marvelous experience is to tell someone about it. The beautiful thing about paintings and statues, in other words, is the way they can be woven into social relationships” (1009). That’s a lesson Brian has learned from O’Hara, and it’s one whose wisdom suffuses his reading of this and other poems.
In the episode, we listen to a clip of O’Hara reading the poem. You can find that clip here and the full episode of the television series from which it was excerpted, Richard O. Moore's USA: Poetry, on the PennSound website.
Brian Glavey is an associate professor of English at the University of South Carolina. He is the author of The Wallflower Avant-Garde (Oxford UP, 2016) and is currently working on a book entitled “The Poetics of Oversharing.” His articles have appeared in PMLA, New Literary History, Criticism, American Literature, and Modernism/modernity. You can follow Brian on Twitter here.
If you like the episode, please subscribe, rate, and review the podcast. And tell a friend about it! Here again is the episode link on Apple, on Spotify, and on Google. I have some really thrilling conversations in the works, and I can’t wait to share them with you.
Super interesting and accessible episode! I look forward to the rest.
I looked up the "Polish Rider" painting with the detailed foreground and sketchy background, and saw it was thought to have been completed quickly so Rembrandt could include it in a bankruptcy sale. This made me think about the theme of the endurance (or not) of art that seems to be woven into "Having a Coke with You."