Selected Poems

Selected Poems

by Frank O'Hara
     
 

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The first new selection of O’Hara’s work to come along in several decades. In this “marvellous compilation” (The New Yorker), editor Mark Ford reacquaints us with one of the most joyous and innovative poets of the postwar period.  See more details below

Overview

The first new selection of O’Hara’s work to come along in several decades. In this “marvellous compilation” (The New Yorker), editor Mark Ford reacquaints us with one of the most joyous and innovative poets of the postwar period.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Sensitively chosen and intelligently introduced . . . Ford’s selection makes it possible to see more clearly how inward O’Hara’s poetry was at its best . . . For O’Hara a poem was truthful when it was personal . . . [His] elegies succeed because long after he discarded any religious belief in immortality, he retained the aesthetic sensibility that took it seriously.”
—Edward Mendelson, The New York Review of Books

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375711480
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/08/2009
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
411,454
Product dimensions:
6.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

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

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Meet the Author

Frank O’Hara was the author of six volumes of poetry, the first of which was published in 1952. He was a curator at the Museum of Modern Art and wrote numerous essays on painting and sculpture. He died in 1966 at the age of forty.

Mark Ford has published several books of poetry and is the author of the critical biography Raymond Roussel and the Republic of Dreams.

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