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"Okay I'll Call You/ Yes Call Me": Frank O'Hara's "Personism"
by Stephen Burt
'Oh! kangaroos, sequins, chocolate sodas!': Frank O'Hara's Excitement
by Wayne Koestenbaum
Something Wonderful May Happen: A New York School Documentary
A Brief Guide to the New York School
Frank O'Hara: A Poet among Painters
Groundbreaking Book: Lunch Poems by Frank O’Hara (1964)
Human Seraphim: "Howl," Sex, and Holiness
by Mark Doty
Joe Brainard: "I Remember"
Making It Sweet Again: On Manifestos by Olson, O'Hara, and Bernstein
by Cort Day
Poetry Landmark: The City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, CA
The Artists & Poets of the New York School
Other New York School Poets
Anne Waldman
Barbara Guest
James Schuyler
John Ashbery
Kenneth Koch
Ron Padgett
External Links
Frank O'Hara (1926-1966)
A collection of critical, historical, and biographical information at the Modern American Poetry site.
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Frank O'Hara
Photo: Brad Gooch (Alfred A. Knopf, 1993)

Frank O'Hara

On March 27, 1926, Frank (Francis Russell) O'Hara was born in Baltimore, Maryland. He grew up in Massachusetts, and later studied piano at the New England Conservatory in Boston from 1941 to 1944. O'Hara then served in the South Pacific and Japan as a sonarman on the destroyer USS Nicholas during World War II.

Following the war, O'Hara studied at Harvard College, where he majored in music and worked on compositions and was deeply influenced by contemporary music, his first love, as well as visual art. He also wrote poetry at that time and read the work of Arthur Rimbaud, Stéphane Mallarmé, Boris Pasternak, and Vladimir Mayakovsky.

While at Harvard, O'Hara met John Ashbery and soon began publishing poems in the Harvard Advocate. Despite his love for music, O'Hara changed his major and left Harvard in 1950 with a degree in English. He then attended graduate school at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and received his MA in 1951. That autumn, O'Hara moved into an apartment in New York. He was soon employed at the front desk of the Museum of Modern Art and began to write seriously.

O'Hara's early work was considered both provocative and provoking. In 1952, his first volume of poetry, A City in Winter, attracted favorable attention; his essays on painting and sculpture and his reviews for ArtNews were considered brilliant. O'Hara became one of the most distinguished members of the New York School of poets, which also included Ashbery, James Schuyler, and Kenneth Koch.

O'Hara's association with the painters Larry Rivers, Jackson Pollock, and Jasper Johns, also leaders of the New York School, became a source of inspiration for his highly original poetry. He attempted to produce with words the effects these artists had created on canvas. In certain instances, he collaborated with the painters to make "poem-paintings," paintings with word texts.

O'Hara's most original volumes of verse, Meditations in an Emergency (1956) and Lunch Poems (1964), are impromptu lyrics, a jumble of witty talk, journalistic parodies, and surrealist imagery.

O'Hara continued working at the Museum of Modern Art throughout his life, curating exhibitions and writing introductions and catalogs for exhibits and tours. In 1966, while vacationing on Fire Island, Frank O'Hara was killed in a sand buggy accident. He was forty years old.

Selected Bibliography


A City Winter, and Other Poems (1952)
Meditations in an Emergency (1956)
Odes (1960)
Second Avenue (1960)
Lunch Poems (1964)
Love Poems (1965)
In Memory of My Feelings (1967)
The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara (1971)
Selected Poems (Knopf, 2008)


Jackson Pollack (1959)
The New Spanish Painting and Sculpture (1960)


Collected Plays (1978)

Poems by
Frank O'Hara

Ave Maria
Meditations in an Emergency
On Seeing Larry Rivers' Washington Crossing the Delaware at the Museum of Modern Art
Personal Poem
Poem [Lana Turner has collapsed!]
The Day Lady Died
To the Film Industry in Crisis
Video: Having a Coke with You

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