The Poetics of the Queered Elegy: Frank O'Hara's "In Memory of My Feelings".
Sax, Adam Marcus.
- Frank O'Hara's poem In Memory of My Feelings does not behave like an elegy; yet this essay will seek to affirm that, as its title would suggest, this poem comes out of a tradition that memorializes that which is lost and seeks to affirm that which remains behind. Through the examination of the poetic structures of this queered form of the elegy, an elegy that stands outside the tradition and ... read morenormative constructions of the elegy, we find a poetic form that mourns feelings, instead of a tangible, physically losable love-object. We will find how these structures, not uncommon to other O'Hara poems and examined in depth from poems such as For Grace, After a Party and For James Dean, shift in their significations when introduced to the environment of this queered self-elegy. Via the structural lens of the critic Helen Vendler, aided by the queered vantages of Lee Edelman and Donald E. Hall, and the post-modernist Marjorie Perloff, this paper examines how the two dominant interpretive modes of the elegy, those of Peter Sacks and Jahan Ramazani, fail to examine the intricacies of such an elegy. This paper will show how the understanding of queerness, when applied to poetics, is an the attribute of being one thing, yet existing outside the norms and structures that regulate such a thing, such as a poem. Thus In Memory of My Feelings is a self-elegy that performs outside the norms of the self-elegy. It does not resolve loss, but rather perpetuates it, understands loss as a part of a pattern of irresolvabilities that carry on throughout the structure of the poem.read less