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Frank O’Hara wrote “Poem [Lana Turner has collapsed!]” in 1962 while traveling to Wagner College to read with Robert Lowell. O’Hara read this poem at the event even though he had only just finished it on his trip there.
The speaker in the “Poem [Lana Turner has collapsed!]” narrates the circumstances surrounding the minute he learned of Lana Turner’s collapse through a newspaper headline and then reacts to this announcement. Hollywood icon Lana Turner was well-known for her contributions to theatre, television, and film.
About The Poet
Frank O’Hara was named Francis Russell O’Hara to Russell J. and Katherine Broderick O’Hara in Baltimore, Maryland, but the family soon relocated to Grafton, a Worcester suburb in central Massachusetts. He studied music rigorously as a child and dreamed of becoming a concert pianist above all else. He attended the New England Conservatory to take classes.
Lana Turner has collapsed! I was trotting along and suddenly it started raining and snowing and you said it was hailing but hailing hits you on the head hard so it was really snowing and raining and I was in such a hurry to meet you but the traffic was acting exactly like the sky and suddenly I see a headline Lana turner has collapsed!
Frank O’Hara uses the phrase “trotting along” to describe himself. He was happily strolling down the street when “suddenly” it began “raining and snowing.” The speaker is taken aback by this sudden change in the weather. The next few words involve “you,” the desired audience.
The speaker refutes his companion’s claim that it was “hailing,” saying that hail is considerably harder than anything that is falling from the sky.The subsequent lines of “Poem [Lana Turner has collapsed!]” provide more information on the scene. In reality, the speaker was enroute to meet the reader or intended recipient of the poetry.
In his words, the traffic was behaving “like the sky.” This resemblance says that traffic is equally annoying and bad as the snow, rain, or hail. Unfortunately, the headline “LANA TURNER HAS COLLAPSED!” slows the speaker down even further. The term “suddenly” is used in this line, just as it was in the line about the weather, to indicate to the reader that this also occurred out of nowhere.
there is no snow in Hollywood there is no rain in California I have been to lots of parties and acted perfectly disgraceful but I never actually collapsed oh Lana Turner we love you get up
He considers his present position of New York as well as life in “Hollywood” and California more generally. Of course, it does rain and snow occasionally in California, just as it is raining and snowing right now in New York. Oh Lana Turner, we love you, get up is the poem’s final phrase, and there is no end punctuation or meaningful ending. He seems to be sighing at the drama of Lana’s demise.