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Lunch Poems (City Lights Pocket Poets Series) Paperback – January 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Series: City Lights Pocket Poets Series
  • Paperback: 76 pages
  • Publisher: City Lights Publishers; First Edition edition (January 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872860353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872860353
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Frank O’Hara’s delightful conversational volume Lunch Poems was published by City Lights in San Francisco fifty years ago, and has remained in print in its original Pocket Poets format ever since. In an anniversary hardback edition, Lawrence Ferlinghetti writes that the poems 'established a certain tone, a certain turn of phrase, a certain urbane wit, at once gay and straight, that came to identify the New York School of poets in the 1960s.'"--James Campbell, Times Literary Supplement UK

"O’Hara's mystique, and the seductive power of his work, have lingered, and in recent years have grown even stronger. What distinguishes O'Hara's poetry? It is not just a remarkable grasp of the zeitgeist but the way his poems manage to feel contemporary, no matter what the year, the ways in which he broke new ground."--Jane Ciabattari, BBC.com

"Although scholars have discussed and quoted from the correspondence between O’Hara and Ferlinghetti about the publication of Lunch Poems before, this is the first time the letters have been published, so it's a real treat to see them in print."--Andrew Epstein, Associate Professor, English Dept, Florida State University

"'My life held precariously in the seeing / hands of others.' Fifty years since its now-iconic orange and blue cover re-entered the bustling, amorous New York City from which they were derived, City Lights has reissued the collection with a new introduction and a supplementary appendix with facsimile drafts, letters, and other wonders."--Staff at WORD Bookstore, Brooklyn, NY

"Nearly 50 years since his death, much American lyrical poetry today also seems timid by comparison, suggestive of pious poets in ascetic isolation from a vulgar, fallen world. . . . What is happening to him now is that his influence on both contemporary American poetry and on pop culture is greater than ever. . . . Lunch Poems has just been republished by City Lights Books in an expanded edition that includes a preface by O’Hara’s New York compatriot John Ashbery and an appendix filled with facsimiles of correspondence spanning 1963 to 1965 between O’Hara and the book’s publisher, Lawrence Ferlinghetti."--Tim Keane, The Brooklyn Rail

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Frank O'Hara was born on March 27, 1926 in Baltimore and grew up in Grafton, Massachusetts. He was a leader of the "New York School" of poets, a group that included John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch, and James Schuyler. He died on July 25, 1966, struck by a dune buggy on the Fire Island beach.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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I agree, Frank O'Hara's Lunch Poems are delicious!
Allen Hagar
Gorgeous collection of some stunningly brilliant compositions.
saul
I devoured that book and then found my way to LUNCH POEMS.
Mary Eastham

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By R. D. Waters on August 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
The perfect introduction to the poetry of O'Hara, "Lunch Poems" is a celebration of life in New York City with art, poetry, music, friends, and of course, the movies. This book contains 'Ave Maria' with the marvelous opening lines:
Mothers of America
let your kids go to the movies!
get them out of the house so they won't know what you're up to
it's true that fresh air is good for the body
but what about the soul
that grows in darkness, embossed by silvery images...
I wish I could remember what generous soul suggested that I read this little book of poems in college, but my expression of gratitude remains unfulfilled. From "Lunch Poems" I tackled the collected poems and never looked back, eventually writing my senior year thesis on O'Hara and film. This little volume, however, retains a special place in my book collection since it was my first O'Hara and my first poetry book. My copy is worn from many trips on trains and airplanes - the perfect antidote to the mind-numbing experience we call travel. To paraphrase the last line of 'A Step Away From Them':
My heart is in my pocket, it is Lunch Poems by Frank O'Hara.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
I'm only writing the obvious here because I couldn't believe people were giving this book only four stars when they give all kinds of mediocre books five. This book contains the best poem of mid-20th century America--"The Day Lady Died"--and is a quintessential example of New York School poetics. Terrific, fun, funny, exciting, moving poetry.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By ken bridgham on April 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
The best collection of poetry written after World War II that I am aware of, "Lunch Poems" brings together the high culture and low culture. O'Hara was known for hanging out with the '50s elite of celebrity and progresive painters, musicians, and actors. Yet he also had an affinity for walking the streets of New York alone at lunchtime or evening, befriending vagrants, observing day to day work and the diversity of metropolitan life. His poems are witty, profound, insightful, original, inspiring, and always unsettling the reader with his unusual observations about life. O'Hara is incredibly literate and knows his poetic heritage, but through "Lunch Poems" he remains intenseley aware of his present and the importance of what goes on around him. Between musings on Charles Baudelaire, Billie Holiday, Arthur Rimbaud, and Miles Davis, one gets the sense of a rootless, absorbing man in love with New York City, art, poetry, daily life, and transcendent experience.
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33 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Robert Cantoni on July 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
Hello my literate friends.
I want to tell you something. This is a book of poems and I should not be writing a review for it. It is famous everywhere except here, and we are here. But I will tell you what you should know to buy this book. That is my job. Now that we have that clear.
These poems are beautiful and good. They are also talky, which is a word my friend Mark Halliday uses, which means that they might sometimes seem close to prose. They are called Lunch Poems because that is the idea, poems that you might compose on your lunch break, walking around New York with some change in your pocket, if you are Frank O'Hara. They seem silly sometimes, and they are, but they are not meaningless: they convey a voice which is suitable and believable and honest.
I think you will like this book.
I will tell you a secret: in my copy of this book, City Lights has increased (somehow) the font size, or the kerning or whatever, so that some lines run-over onto the next. In the original version this did not happen. This is a minor detail that I want to tell you about because you deserve to know. City Lights if you are reading this: hello, and, please fix it.
Thank you.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Ettner on August 5, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Frank O'Hara's reputation seems caught in a holding period, an awkward stage preliminary to his work becoming universal and timeless.

Consider, for example, the final scene in the opening episode of the second season of "Mad Men," the cable TV series set in the world of advertising as practiced in New York in the early 1960s. We see the show's protagonist, Don Draper, picking up a slim volume of O'Hara's poems ("Meditations in an Emergency," 1957). He recites the final lines from "Mayakovsky." There is an ambivalence to the scene. Was the O'Hara poem chosen for its intrinsic merit, or was the O'Hara name used as an easy marker for the zeitgeist (the same way the show's producers highlight the period-specific cut of Draper's suit and hair and attitudes)? With friends like these, when will O'Hara escape his confinement to the mannerist ghetto of the "New York School"?

And so some readers may pick up "Lunch Poems" (first published in 1964) after seeing it praised as an emblematic cultural document of mid-twentieth century America. Yet even if the time-bound aura of O'Hara is the come-on, what makes you stay enthralled is his voice -- a "thinking" voice as vitally American as Whitman or Frost.

There are 37 poems in "Lunch Poems" and their quality as well as their accessibility varies. The poems span a period from 1953 to 1964. This book is not a "best of" O'Hara collection, yet it does contain what may be his most durable poem.

A few of these short pieces are so recondite that they lose me. In a few others O'Hara raises an opaque scrim to suggest beauty beckoning from the other side, and these poems begin to "click" only after multiple readings. But the majority of the poems are freshly-minted coins granting immediate access to a lively, urbane worldview.
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