In Which He Liked Frank O’Hara For The Same Reason He Had Not Liked Him Before – Kenneth Koch

Frank O’Hara with Grace Hartigan

“The first thing of Frank O’Hara’s I ever read was a story in the Harvard Advocate in 1948. It was about some people drunkenly going up stairs. During the next year, when I was living in New York, John Ashbery told me that Frank had started to write poems and that they were very good. I forget if I met Frank before or after John told me he had started writing poems. Actually, as I later found out, Frank had started writing poetry a long time before, and prose was only a temporary deviation for him. In any case, the first time I read some of Frank’s poems was in the summer of 1950, just before I left for France on a Fulbright grant. John Ashbery had mailed them to me and had described them enthusiastically. I didn’t like them very much. I wrote back to John that Frank was not as good as we were, and then gave a few reasons why. These poems by Frank were somehow packed in one of my suitcases when I went abroad, and I happened to read them again when I was in Aix-en-Provence. This time they seemed to me marvellous; I was very excited about them. Also very intimidated. I believe I liked them for the same reasons I had not liked them before – i.e. because they were sassy, colloquial, and full of realistic detail. … His presence and his poetry made things go on around him which could not have happened in the same way if he hadn’t been there. I know this is true of my poetry, and I would guess it was true also of the poetry of James Schuyler and John Ashbery, and of the painting of Jane Freilicher, Larry Rivers, Mike Goldberg, Grace Hartigan and other painters too. One of the most startling things about Frank in the period when I first knew him was his ability to write a poem when other people were talking, or even to get up in the middle of a conversation, get his typewriter, and write a poem, sometimes participating in the conversation while doing so. …”
This Recording (Video)
Present Tense: Frank O’Hara at the Movies
A Note on Robert Lowell and Frank O’Hara

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Poetry and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s