Frank O’Hara and Drake, Together at Last

Slate's Culture Blog
Sept. 10 2013 11:27 AM

Poetry and Pop Music Beautifully Put Together

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Cassandra Gillig doesn’t “really draw a distinction between poetry & music, as far as my listening habits & affinities go,” and “would readily place the Dial-a-Poem albums ... up there with, say, Marquee Moon or 36 Chambers.”

This may explain her perceptiveness in recognizing that Frank O’Hara’s reading of “Ode to Joy” would go beautifully with the instrumental track for Drake’s “The Best I Ever Had.”

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“Ode to the Best I Ever Had,” embedded above with Gillig’s permission, is one of several such mashups that Gillig, herself a poet, has created, earning notices on Language Log, the Poetry website, and elsewhere. Gillig doesn’t intend these mashups to be “irreverent,” she explains on her blog. “I think that pop music has a way of capturing our emotions in their most palatable form,” she says, adding that “the musicality of these poets is often ignored & we so often forget that poetry can exist beyond the page.”

An excellent example: William Carlos Williams reading his famous “Tract” over “Lotus Flower Bomb” by Wale.

Gillig works with contemporary poetry, too; below, Dorothea Lasky reads “Outside Chattanooga, Tennessee” over Raekwon’s “Ice Cream.”

You can listen to more on Gillig’s Tumblr.

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog. Follow him on Twitter.