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The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara Paperback – March 31, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
This collection is enormous, and much of it--especially the early work--is not stylistically representative of his best and most well-known work. It is also dreadfully organized. The poems are not presented by date of publication or date written. Nor do the poems include either date. That information is in a separate index--organized, infuriatingly, by date. So unless you've memorized the year of each of the thousands of poems in this 600 page book, it's not terribly useful. I do hope this book is re-edited substantially for future publication. In the meantime, it will have to do.
At his best, Frank O'Hara's poems are wonderfully accessible, sparklingly natural, delightful, and have the ability to delicately carve out a perfectly captured nanosecond of living breathing space and time with insight and sincerity.
He introduced a new kind of literary voice into serious poetry: highly personal, specific, catty, generous, vivid and oddly friendly, with an unpretentious humor, and a sense of physical placement, that were often almost mystical. (See "A Step Away from Them.") He showed that you didn't have to be 'heavy' to be profound. In the process, this added an entirely new dimension to serious American writing, the effects of which are still only starting to be understood -- and not just in poetry, but in other forms, too.
Frank could do it all: existential crisis ("1951," "Adieu to Norman..."); artistic meditation ("Ode on Causality"); high erotic comedy ("To the Film Industry in Crisis," "Ave Maria," and the minor, but inspired, "The Lay of the Romance of the Associations"); and poignant confusion ("Getting Up Ahead of Someone (Sun)". And this is not listing the famous "I-do-this-I-do-that" poems, or the transcendent "A True Account of Talking to the Sun at Fire Island".
(One caveat for newcomers to this work: the book was compiled and edited by Donald Allen after Frank's sudden death. Mr. Allen scrupulously, and wisely, chose to include all of the materials he found, not making any editorial judgements about quality. But the fact is that O'Hara was an uneven writer, and about 20% of these poems are, well, pretty bad. You just have to exercise some caution, and avoid making snap judgements.Read more ›
Frank did it first, in case you were wondering. He was as funny as Wilde and as dead-serious as Stevens, plus as silly as a Tarzan movie (which he loved). A hard set of balls to juggle, but juggle them he did, and brilliantly.
For those who think this poetry is too 'casual' to be ranked as first-class, consider the following: Frank was arguably the most cultured man in America in his generation. An art curator, skilled classical pianist, Harvard grad and Navy veteran, fluent in several languages, he basically had all of English and French poetry saved to hard disk in his brain, as well as the last 400 years of Western painting and music. It's almost silly to think about. All of this material forms the background for his impressionistic, seemingly-flip meditations on rainy days, radios, painting, blueberry blintzes, Khrushchev, and love in all its manifold forms. But he's actually built a kind of socio-artistic City with this stuff: read one way, the Collected Poems is the autobiography of a culture at one of its critical historical moments (it's also the autobiography of an individual, and the autobiography of New York.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Big collection! Not sure how it's organized, however, as there's no explanation
in the editor's preface. But, still and all, a tremendous gathering of O'Hara's work.
Is O'Hara almost too talked about today, at the expense of his NY School friends? Maybe. But this is a great collection, case closed.Published 17 months ago by Mark Statman
This was my first encounter with Frank O'Hara's poetry despite being a fan of his New York contemporaries Kenneth Koch and James Schuyler. Read morePublished on January 14, 2014 by MinnesotaMind
Love this book - it's in really great shape, got to my house quickly and was a great price for how big it is.
Frank O'Hara is a wonderful poet. He writes from the heart, and grabs your brain while he is dong it.Published on December 4, 2011 by R.J.
One test of a fine poet for other poets is that she or he makes you want to write your own poems and gives you permission and the tools to do so. Read morePublished on June 14, 2008 by M. Hori