Frank O'Hara Selected Poems

ISBN 13: 9781857547351

Selected Poems

 
9781857547351: Selected Poems
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This "Selected Poems" presents British readers with one of the most delightful and radical American poets of the 20th century. Frank O'Hara influenced a generation of writers. Breaking with the academic traditions which dominated 1950s poetry, his best poems evince what John Ashbery calls an "instantaneous quality" - unpremeditated freshness, surpise and truth to the observations, loves, friendships or dreams which occasioned them. Autobiography, not confession: Ashbery recalls his "concept of the poem as a chronicle of the creative act which produced it", a poetry new in kind, analogous in approach to painters such as Pollock, Kline and de Kooning, O'Hara's poetry is enriched by his experience of music, painting, sculpture and dance - vibrant snapshots of the life of his city (New York), of imagination and the heart.

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About the Author:

Frank O'Hara was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1926, and grew up in Grafton, Massachusetts. He served in the US navy (1944-46) in the South Pacific, and attended the universities of Harvard and Michigan. In 1951 O'Hara settled in Manhattan, and soon became a central figure in a number of the city's artistic circles. For fifteen years he worked as an associate curator at the Museum of Modern Art, during which he became a passionate advocate of Abstract Expressionist painters such as William de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline. O'Hara wrote an enormous quantity of poetry, little of which was published during his lifetime, but which was much admired by friends such as John Ashbery, Kenneth Kock and James Schulyler. He died on 25th July 1966, from injuries sustained in a beach-buggy accident on Fire Island. He is buried at Green River Cemetary on Long Island. His 'Collected Poems' was published in 1971, and won the National Book Award for Poetry.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

My Heart

I’m not going to cry all the time
nor shall I laugh all the time,
I don’t prefer one “strain” to another.
I’d have the immediacy of a bad movie,
not just a sleeper, but also the big,
overproduced first-run kind. I want to be
at least as alive as the vulgar. And if
some aficionado of my mess says “That’s
not like Frank!,” all to the good! I
don’t wear brown and grey suits all the time,
do I? No. I wear workshirts to the opera,
often. I want my feet to be bare,
I want my face to be shaven, and my heart–
you can’t plan on my heart, but
the better part of it, my poetry, is open.
The Day Lady Died

It is 12:20 in New York, a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don’t know the people who will feed me

I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
and have a hamburger and a malted and buy
an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets
in Ghana are doing these days
I go on to the bank
and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)
doesn’t even look up my balance for once in her life
and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine
for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do
think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or
Brendan Behan’s new play or Le Balcon or Les Nègres
of Genet, but I don’t, I stick with Verlaine
after practically going to sleep with quandariness

and for Mike I just stroll into the PARK LANE
Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega and
then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue
and the tobacconist in the Ziegfeld Theatre and
casually ask for a carton of Gauloises and a carton
of Picayunes, and a NEW YORK POST with her face on it

and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing
Having a Coke With You

is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Traversa de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary
it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles

and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them
I look
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together for the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me
and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully
as the horse
it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I’m telling you about it
From the Hardcover edition.

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