Originally published under Donald Allen's classic Grey Fox Press imprint, Poems Retrieved is a substantial part of Frank O'Hara's oeuvre, containing over 200 pages of previously unpublished poetry discovered after the publication of his posthumous Collected Poems in 1971. Featuring a new introduction by O'Hara expert and friend, poet and art critic Bill Berkson, Poems Retrieved has been completely reformatted and is essential for any reader of twentieth century poetry. As Berkson writes, "The breadth of what Frank O'Hara took to be poetry is reflected in the many kinds of poems he wrote. . . . Turning the pages of any of his collections, you wonder what he didn't turn his hand to, what variety of poem he left untried or didn't, in some cases, as if in passing, anticipate."
Praise for Poems Retrieved:
"The 'revolutionary piano thunders' and genius Frank O'Hara is re-retrieved in this essential condensary of solid gems, companion to all the other oeuvre. Yet no burden here. He wears his erudition and urgency lightly, and his kinetic juxtaposing 'moves' keep startling scholars, fans, and new converts alike. Pleasure morphs with a metaphysical zone as O'Hara's polished surface is cut into deeper to form complex and spirited love poems. They only grow stronger, more mysterious, through vintage time and space. When I met him I saw that jaunty leonine head leading the generous heart 'and my wristwatch became rusty with happiness.'"—Anne Waldman, poet and author of The Iovis Trilogy
"While the reputation of many mid-twentieth century poets has declined, Frank O'Hara's keeps rising and rising: today's readers cannot get enough of his brave, jaunty, self-lacerating, funny, poignant, mysterious, and always surprising lyric. Poems Retrieved, originally published in 1977 by the late Don Allen's Grey Fox Press and long out of print, contains more than 200 pages of poems that Allen found after he had assembled the monumental Collected Poems for Alfred A. Knopf in 1971. As Allen noted in his Preface, and as Bill Berkson shows us in his excellent new introduction, these 'poems retrieved,' ranging as they do over O'Hara's entire career, are a necessary complement to the Collected, an integral component of the poet's oeuvre. No one interested in O'Hara's poetry—indeed, no one interested in the poetic ethos of the American 1950s and '60s—can afford to be without this volume."—Marjorie Perloff, Professor Emerita of English at Stanford University, and author of Frank O’Hara: Poet Among Painters
"I'm proud to say that I still have my original copy of Poems Retrieved published by Grey Fox Press in the late 1970's. Many thanks and respect to City Lights, and of course to Donald Allen, for making these wonderful poems, by one of America's very greatest poets, available once again!"—Jim Jarmusch, filmmaker
"The gentle intelligence and hip urbanity that Frank O’Hara expressed in his writing, indeed as a person, has nearly vanished, as much as the city that inspired him. His love for the wild vision, in all its artful abstraction, and his erudite passion for the common muse, has proven to be the true resonant poetry of our anxious human condition. We need him."—Thurston Moore, musician
"I can't seem to get ahold of enough Frank O'Hara. Poems Retrieved operates as a kind of further casebook, offering separate luminous slivers of his day to day life. Readers will fill in the gaps themselves through lucid dreaming of Frank. His measure is always gushing forward to float the next incredible image, 'into the hot spring of her blood and her lips, wet with the flavor and the subtle scales, glitter against the horizon.' His colors rise to the surface of our language, etruscan gold split with flashing bolts of violet, and all of this action is still tailored to a very lived in (to die for) tone of voice. Poems Retrieved has been lovingly revamped and now includes a knockout introduction by Bill Berkson. He traces with ease and acuity O'Hara's early fearlessness within forms and his eventual rise to full strength, 'Not that posturing was gone, but that he had realized the postures appropriate for him and the poems.'"—Cedar Sigo, author of Stranger in Town
"One of the many pleasures this volume offers is the opportunity to see O'Hara's lightning-quick mind in motion, comparing these newly discovered poems with the O'Hara that we already know. Behind 'The Day Lady Died' lingers the ghost of its beginnings, a tiny poem entitled '[it is 4:19 in Pennsylvania Station]' where we can see O'Hara rehearsing for the great spotlight number to come. Poems Retrieved is a boundless bonanza of O'Hara's version of delight."—D.A. Powell, author of Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys