A brief series of favorite poems and their histories, #1

Hi everyone,

I’ve recently had reason to pull together a representation of my poems over the years and tell something about them. It wasn’t an easy task. In 2016 I spent days trying to collect my published poems into one document and it ran 512 pages. I didn’t count the number of poems. I need to update the file.

Since I have this list of some of my favorite poems in a handy place, I think I’ll amuse myself, and hopefully you, by posting them, one each day, for a while. I’ll break for incoming news, but otherwise it will be a few days of poems. Here’s the first one.

“It’s Me!” was written to the inspiration of Andy Warhol’s 1962 diptych painting of Marilyn Monroe for the 2001 award-winning book HEART TO HEART, edited by Jan Greenberg for Harry Abrams. In 2012 it appeared in Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets, an international anthology edited for Knopf by Emily Fragos, poet and teacher at Columbia and New York universities who also appeared in the film, The Fortune Writer. The poem is usually presented with each line placed in a different, surprising location on the page to reflect various Marilyns in the painting pleading to the reader. My word press doesn’t allow for such placement.

It’s Me!

Hey!

Over here!
It’s me!

The real Marilyn!

Shhh!

Don’t tell the others!

They don’t know they’re fakes!

Hey!

Over here!

It’s me!

The real Marilyn!

Shhh!

Don’t tell the others!

They don’t know they’re fakes!

Hey!

Over here!

It’s me!

(c) 2001 David L. Harrison, all rights reserved

9 comments on “A brief series of favorite poems and their histories, #1

  1. Thanks for sharing. It’s apropos too because your word for the month of March is “me.”
    As a budding poet and a bit of a late bloomer (my first chapbook was published when i was 62, 2nd at 63 and third will hopefully come out soon, and now i’m 64) would like to know – for this and future poems – what makes it a good poem? What makes it worthy to be published in an anthology or magazine? Again, i’ve had a few poems published in journals and anthologies, but way more rejected. And they all seem like good and worthwhile poems to me… I also don’t have much formal education in poetry (I’m self-taught).

  2. Oh and one more thing… many times i read poems and i love them. But other times i read poems – in anthologies, books, journals – and wonder… what? why? how? did this get published?

    • All good questions, Yvona, and ones we’ve all asked ourselves, especially when we read something we don’t relate to or find technically deficient. As we all know, getting something published involves many factors beyond basic composition skills. The biggest one is luck: finding the right editor at the right time with the right subject. Which is why professional writers work and submit constantly. We get rejected more than anyone else because we have more chances to be turned down, but we also have more chances to have something of ours accepted. In the case of anthologies, the writing is usually tailored to the specific needs of the person pulling together all the material. HEART TO HEART was a book to feature the marriage of poems and art, starting with art. I looked at the painting of Warhol’s and saw fifty pictures of Marilyn Monroe, I reasoned that the artist must have started with one original painting. Therefore, all the others were copies — fakes. Monroe was a lost soul who became more wretched toward the end of her life, which ended tragically. My poem was written to take those reflections into consideration. My starting assumption was that not even she knew for sure who she was or what she was originally. To “get” the finished poem entirely, you need to be looking at the painting as you read the pleas staggered across the pages as though the are coming from many expressions of Marilyn Monroe. The poem works on that level. When Jan Greenberg accepted a prestigious award for her book, my poem was one selected to be read. That’s why, I think, it was also chosen for the anthology compiled later by Emily Fragos. I consider “It’s Me!” to be a good poem because it seems to breath and exist as an extension of the woman in the painting.

      • Yvona, I posted my thoughts for you too soon. I meant to circle back to the part about luck. In this case it played a prominent role. I was originally given a Warhol diptych of cows — rows and columns of the same cow. I wrote the poem while staring at the multiple copies of one original cow, and the poem was accepted for the book. At the last minute Jan learned that she could not obtain the cow painting but could get the one with Monroe. All I needed to do at that point was change “cow” to “Marilyn.” The luck was that the poem became deeper and more meaningful because of the personality of a tragic figure in our history. Voila! The poet at work!

  3. Loved your poem and thoughts this morning, David! Thank you for sharing so much information from your writer’s heart. I surely appreciate it.

      • Yep – we’re dug out now. That’s one good thing about Colorado. When it snows, it usually melts pretty quickly. Our neighborhood was plowed on Friday, so there were only a few days of being “stuck.” I’m not complaining!!

  4. Loved your poem. Did you know Marilyn Monroe is big in Thailand. A mall had her photos displayed on all levels and saleswomen were selling products that were “hers.”

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