City Poet: The Life and Times of Frank O'Hara

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City Poet is the first, and will stand as the definitive, biography of Frank O'Hara, the poet who was at the very heart of New York's literary and artistic life during the 1950s and 1960s. At that historic turning point when the art world's center had shifted from the Paris of Picasso to the New York of Pollock and de Kooning, O'Hara was a catalytic figure embracing the city as his muse. "His presence and poetry made things go on around him," his friend the poet Kenneth Koch has said. And this book brings it all ...
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City Poet: The Life and Times of Frank O'Hara

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Overview

City Poet is the first, and will stand as the definitive, biography of Frank O'Hara, the poet who was at the very heart of New York's literary and artistic life during the 1950s and 1960s. At that historic turning point when the art world's center had shifted from the Paris of Picasso to the New York of Pollock and de Kooning, O'Hara was a catalytic figure embracing the city as his muse. "His presence and poetry made things go on around him," his friend the poet Kenneth Koch has said. And this book brings it all to life: the late nights at the Cedar bar with Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Juan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, Jackson Pollock; the poetry readings at the Living Theatre with Gregory Corso, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, LeRoi Jones, or at galleries with O'Hara's fellow poets of the New York School - John Ashbery, James Schuyler, and Barbara Guest. Here are the openings at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery or at the Museum of Modern Art, where O'Hara brilliantly curated one-man shows of the work of Robert Motherwell, David Smith, and Franz Kline. And, here, above all, is the genesis of his poems - often dashed off in a crowded banquette at the Cedar bar - poems whose special quality Allen Ginsberg has perfectly expressed: "He taught me to really see New York for the first tinge. It was like having Catullus change your view of the Forum in Rome." City Poet follows O'Hara from his insular Catholic childhood, to his service in the Navy during World War II, to Harvard, to his great New York years - wherever he was, he was a magnet. "Right away," de Kooning has said, "he was at the center of things, and he did not bulldoze. There was a good-omen feeling about him." O'Hara's presence at parties became so coveted that, according to Helen Frankenthaler, invitations often bore the written promise, "Frank will be there." In this book, Gooch tells the unforgettable story that was suddenly cut short on July 25, 1966, when O'Hara, just turning forty and at the height of
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Short story writer and poet Gooch has written a fine and lively biography of O'Hara, who was killed at the age of 40 in 1966 by a speeding Jeep on the beach at Fire Island after living through the whirlwind of artistic and bohemian life in New York City during the 1950s and 1960s. Born in Grafton, Mass., O'Hara left his strict Catholic father and alcoholic mother for the Navy before matriculating at Harvard and venturing to the University of Michigan. Gooch paints the everyday details of O'Hara's life--he was a published poet, a critic for ArtNews and a curator at the Museum of Modern Art --with friendly and specific strokes. His career, loves and influences in New York City are all here: correspondence with John Ashbery about William Carlos Williams; posing nude while employed at MOMA; angry bouts with abstract painter Grace Hartigan, etc. Photos not seen by PW. BOMC alternate. June
Library Journal
Gooch offers a lengthy first biography of Frank O'Hara, the New York School poet of the Fifties and Sixties who espoused the Abstract Expressionism that gave way to Pop Art. Born of a Massachusetts Irish Catholic family, O'Hara contemplated music as a career but, after serving in the navy and attending Harvard, he decided on poetry. He did graduate work at the University of Michigan, then came to New York and became a poet, curator at the Museum of Modern Art, and critic for ArtNews . He assisted many avant-garde poets and painters; his multimedia outlook marks much of his poetry. This well-researched book is generously garnished both with samples of his work and his homosexual attachments and details his struggle with alcohol. Tragically, O'Hara was struck and killed by a car in 1966, at the age of 40. Recommended for general and special collections.-- Kenneth Mintz, Hoboken P.L., N.J.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060976132
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/1/1994
  • Series: Borzoi Reader Ser.
  • Edition description: 1st HarperPerennial ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 576
  • Product dimensions: 5.32 (w) x 7.93 (h) x 1.33 (d)

Meet the Author

Brad Gooch

Brad Gooch is the author of the acclaimed biography of Frank O'Hara, City Poet, as well as Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography, along with other nonfiction and three novels. The recipient of National Endowment for the Humanities and Guggenheim fellowships, he earned his Ph.D. at Columbia University and is Professor of English at William Paterson University in New Jersey. He lives in New York City.

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