The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara (1974)


“I first met the poet Frank O’Hara in the early 1990s. I was in the process of abandoning the writing program I was enrolled in at a local university for the much less muddied waters of the religious studies department; and, for his part, Frank had been dead for a little over twenty-five years. Frank O’Hara died at 8:50 p.m. on July 25, 1966 at Bayview General Hospital on Long Island. Mark Ford, editor of O’Hara’s Selected Poems (2008) [not to be confused by The Selected Poems of Frank O’Hara, 1974], succinctly describes the events of the previous evening, a night O’Hara spent with his friends Morris Golde, J. J. Mitchell, and Virgil Thomson clubbing on Fire Island. ‘The beach taxi in which he and his friend J. J. Mitchell were traveling broke down. As they waited for a replacement to arrive, a Jeep approaching from the opposite direction swerved to avoid the stranded taxi and travelers, and it struck O’Hara.’  Frank and I met in a seedy bookshop on campus, a second floor walk-up promisingly dubbed Ice 9. In the airless front room of the shop were displays of toe-curlingly pornographic photo collections, dusty issues of Re/Search featuring Throbbing Gristle and Brion Gysin, and excitingly garish works by Kathy Acker, Jack Black (hobo author of You Can’t Win fame), and J. G. Ballard. Perusing the makeshift shelves in the smaller rear room I came across a small display of poetry titles including a healthy dollop from the City Lights Pocket Poets Series. Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, Kerouac, I ran my finger across the familiar spines. But ho! What’s this? I had never come across this dual-toned orange and green volume before. Number nineteen in the series was by some hungry dude named O’Hara. Guess I should check it out. …”
ABAA: Frank O’Hara in 1966 (Video)
In Which Frank O’Hara Was Among Us
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