Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Frank O'Hara's Lunch Poems
Lunch Poems , first published in 1964 by City Lights Books as number nineteen in the Pocket Poets series, is widely considered to be Frank O'Hara's freshest and most accomplished collection of poetry. Edited by the poet in collaboration with Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Donald Allen, who had published O'Hara’s poems in his monumental The New American Poetry in 1960, it contains some of the poet’s best known works including "The Day Lady Died," "Ave Maria," and "Poem" [Lana Turner has collapsed!].
This new limited 50th anniversary edition contains a preface by John Ashbery and an editor’s note by City Lights publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti, along with facsimile reproductions of a selection of previously unpublished correspondence between Ferlinghetti and O’Hara that shed new light on the preparation of Lunch.
"Frank O'Hara's Lunch Poems , the little black dress of American poetry books, redolent of cocktails and cigarettes and theater tickets and phonograph records, turns 50 this year. It seems barely to have aged . . . This is a book worth imbibing again, especially if you live in Manhattan, but really if you're awake and curious anywhere. O’Hara speaks directly across the decades to our hopes and fears and especially our delights; his lines are as intimate as a telephone call. Few books of his era show less age."Dwight Garner, The New York Times
"City Lights' new reissue of the slim volume includes a clutch of correspondence between O'Hara and Lawrence Ferlinghetti . . . in which the two poets hash out the details of the book's publication: which poems to consider, their order, the dedication, and even the title. 'Do you still like the title Lunch Poems?' O’Hara asks Ferlinghetti. 'I wonder if it doesn't sound too much like an echo of Reality Sandwiches or Meat Science Essays.' 'What the hell,' Ferlinghetti replies, 'so we’ll have to change the name of City Lights to Lunch Counter Press.'"Nicole Rudick, The Paris Review
"Frank O’Hara's famed collection was first published in 1964, and, to mark the fiftieth anniversary, City Lights is printing a special edition." The New Yorker
"The volume has never gone out of print, in part because O’Hara expresses himself in the same way modern Americans do: Like many of us, he tries to overcome the absurdity and loneliness of modern life by addressing an audience of anonymous others."Micah Mattix, The Atlantic
"I hope that everyone will delight in the new edition of Frank's LUNCH POEMS. The correspondence between Lawrence and Frank is great. Frank was just 33 when he wrote to Lawrence in 1959 and 38 when LUNCH POEMS was published! The fact that City Lights kept Frank's LUNCH POEMS in print all these years has been extraordinary, wonderful and a constant comfort. Hurray for independent publishers and independent bookstores. Many thanks always to Lawrence Ferlinghetti and everyone at City Lights."Maureen O’Hara, sister of Frank O'Hara
"Frank O'Hara's Lunch Poems which has just been reissued in a 50th anniversary hardcover editionrecalls a world of pop art, political and cultural upheaval and (in its own way) a surprising innocence."David Ulin, Los Angeles Times
About the Author
Frank O'Hara was born on March 27, 1926 in Baltimore and grew up in Grafton, Massachusetts. He was a leader of the "New York School" of poets, a group that included John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch, and James Schuyler. He died on July 25, 1966, struck by a dune buggy on the Fire Island beach.