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!]. These are the compelling and formally inventive poems—casually composed, for example, in his office at The Museum of Modern Art, in the street at lunchtime or on the Staten Island Ferry en route to a poetry reading—that made O'Hara a dynamic leader of the "New York School" of poets.
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note by City Lights publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti, along with facsimile reproductions of a selection of previously unpublished correspondence between Ferlinghetti and O'Hara that shed new light on the preparation of Lunch.
"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
About Frank O'Hara:
Frank O'Hara was born on March 27th, 1926 in Baltimore, Maryland and grew up in Grafton, a suburb of Worcester, in central Massachusetts. He studied piano at the New England Conservatory in Boston as a special student from December 11, 1943 through Spring 1944.
With funding made available to veterans he attended Harvard University, where his first poems were published in the Harvard Advocate. He attended graduate school at the University of Michigan and received his M.A. in English literature and the Hopwood Award for Poetry in 1951.That autumn O'Hara moved into an apartment in New York City with Joe LeSueur, who would be his roommate for the next eleven years.
Known throughout his life for his sociability, passion, and warmth, O'Hara had many great friends throughout his life, many from the New York poetry, art, and music worlds. Soon after arriving in New York, he was employed at the Museum of Modern Art, first selling postcards and then becoming assistant curator and later associate curator in the Painting and Sculpture Department. He curated the David Smith retrospective (1966) that traveled to Europe, the Robert Motherwell retrospective (1965) at the MoMA and the Nakian retrospective (1966) at the MoMA.
During his lifetime O'Hara was known as a "poet among painters," part of a group of poets--John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, James Schuyler, Bill Berkson, and Barbara Guest--who found inspiration and support from the painters they chose to associate with.