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Selected Poems

4.42  ·  Rating Details ·  783 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
Frank O’Hara (1926–1966) was one of the most original and influential American poets of the twentieth century. Although he grew up in Grafton, Massachusetts, O’Hara developed into the quintessential poet of mid-century Manhattan; soon after his arrival in New York in 1951 he evolved a new kind of urban poetry that brilliantly captures the heady excitements of a golden peri ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published February 26th 2008 by Knopf (first published February 12th 1974)
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(showing 1-30)
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Antonomasia
Frank O'Hara's poems are made for weather like this: bright high summer with air so warm and thick it feels like you could swim in it, when it's easy to forget you or the world has ever been cold. Summery, happy and joyful aren't ideas commonly associated with poetry for grownups but here they're intrinsic… Reading this seemed all wrong whenever I tried to finish off the book (for the first time) between last September and this April. O'Hara's is not an idiotic sort of happiness like motivationa ...more
Susan
Jun 23, 2007 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I always go back to this book. It stays on my shelf. O'Hara's poetry is quirky, smart, funny.... Check out the opening to "In Memory of my Feelings":

"My quietness has a man in it, he is transparent/
and he carries me quietly, like a gondola, through the streets./ He has several likenesses, like stars and years, like numerals."
Tosh
Sep 15, 2007 Tosh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Frank O'Hara just had that knack of writing a great poem. I think he had a great ear for language, and knew how to edit things around his life. Poems that read like conversations and puts you right into the New York art world of the late 50's. One of my favorite American poets, that's for sure.
twrctdrv
Oct 17, 2012 twrctdrv rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There's a line in the introduction to this edition quoting Frank O'Hara that goes, "I know you won't think this is much of a subject for a poem but I just can't help it: I feel like this." This is Frank O'Hara's poetry
Jsavett1
Jan 14, 2014 Jsavett1 rated it really liked it
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. There has been a lot of recent interest in O'Hara's collection Reflections In An Emergency since it was featured brilliantly in an episode of Mad Men. No matter what its merit, any time the egenral public takes an interest in serious poetry, I count that as a good thing.

That said, O'Hara's work feels a bit inconsistent. The best of these poems demonstrate O'H
...more
Luka Urbac
Jan 31, 2017 Luka Urbac rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One need never leave the confines of New York to get all the greenery one wishes—I can't even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there's a subway handy, or a record store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life.
Michelle Luksh
Jan 07, 2013 Michelle Luksh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The only poem I have ever committed to memory was written by Frank O'Hara, which sadly is not featured in this collection. However I will share it with you so you can get a feel for his poetry and soul.


"You do not always seem to be able to decide
that it is all right, that you are doing what you're doing
and yet there is always that complicity in your smile
that it is we, not you, who are doing it
which is one of the things that make me love you"
Greg
Apr 06, 2015 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
O’Hara was a major American poet, and deserves to be read more widely. He flaunted the rules, both hyper-intellectual and countercultural, in his writing. There is an excellent piece at the beginning of this volume of his writing that describes his approach. In “Personism: A Manifesto” he writes:

“As for their [poems] reception, suppose you’re in love and someone’s mistreating (mal aime) you, you don’t say, ‘Hey, you can’t hurt me this way, I care!’ you just let all the different bodies fall wher
...more
Nalnac
Feb 18, 2013 Nalnac rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry



(view spoiler)

ANIMALS

Have you forgotten what we were like then
when we were still first rate
and the day came fat with an apple in its mouth

it's no use worrying about Time
but we did have a few tricks up our sleeves
and turned some sharp corners

the whole pasture looked like our meal
we didn't need speedometers
we could manage cocktails out of ice and water

I wouldn't want to be faster
or gr
...more
Cheryl
Sep 06, 2016 Cheryl marked it as xx-dnf-skim-reference  ·  review of another edition
Apt cover. I read through index of first lines and titles for a few of interest, and did find a few that were clever & accessible, but most seemed weird, urban, pretentious, and all too revealing of someone I do not want to know so well.
Conor
May 11, 2016 Conor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
"Animals" is an all-time favorite:

Have you forgotten what we were like then
when we were still first rate
and the day came fat with an apple in its mouth

it's no use worrying about Time
but we did have a few tricks up our sleeves
and turned some sharp corners

the whole pasture looked like our meal
we didn't need speedometers
we could manage cocktails out of ice and water

I wouldn't want to be faster
or greener than now if you were with me O you
were the best of all my days
Jay
Jul 23, 2008 Jay rated it it was amazing
The hell with all those other selections of O'Hara.

This is the book.

The "Collected" and the "Retrieved" are scrapyards, treasures and forgettable-- though celebratory! though full of life!-- poems squished side by side. Speaking of squished, this is the first O'Hara "Selected" I've come across to give every poem its own page. Right on!

And it's got "Sleeping on the Wing," "You Are Gorgeous and I'm Coming," "Hotel Transylvanie," his little poem about Keats, "To the Film Industry in Crisis," and
...more
Ivan
Nov 26, 2009 Ivan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dear Diary: I have fallen in love with a poet named Frank O'Hara. I started with "Lunch Poems," but needed more. This volume is divine. O'Hara sneaks up on you. His style is so simple, so conversational, that you often times are surprised by the sudden depth of feeling comminicated in a final phrase. I don't know enough about poetry to prattle on and on without betraying my ignornace in short order. However, I know what I like, I know what speaks to me. I know that Frank O'Hara was a great poet.
Emmkay
May 07, 2013 Emmkay rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013-reads, poetry
There were a handful of poems and portions of poems that took my breath away. Gorgeous imagery and turns of phrase and feeling. I really am not into all the poems about O'Hara and his cool friends at cool parties in places I don't know though - my eyes often glazed over. Regarding those poems, the introduction compares him to Alexander Pope (though obviously in a mid-20th century NYC kind of way), and, well, yes, but to me that's not a recommendation.
Isabella
Jul 11, 2010 Isabella rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"...it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles..."
A piece of the first poem I ever heard by Frank O'Hara, read aloud to me by a favorite teacher. It's called "Having a Coke with you"
Saba
Jan 06, 2010 Saba rated it it was amazing
This was by no means my first exposure to Frank O'Hara, but I've never sat and read a full collection, only select poems here and there. Which maybe for poetry is the best way to read it. Nevertheless O'Hara is my favorite poet along with Elizabeth Bishop, so no matter what collection you read by him, it will be great. "For Grace, After a Party" is truly perfect, and "Steps" is one of the best NYC poems you'll ever read.
Vincent
Apr 04, 2015 Vincent rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Frank O’Hara is an idol of mine, though these selected poems are a lot more endurable than the complete poems, which I once, foolishly, tried to read, which was a mess of my time. O’Hara’s work is at times illuminating and tiresome. But 5 stars anyway because his best work cancels out the dispensable poems. And even the dispersible poems are interesting so long as you pace yourself. An imperfect writer like no other. Let’s all stop imitating him.
Gerry LaFemina
I have a love/hate relationship with O'Hara's poetry, and after spending a week reading the selected poems of O'Hara, I still do. I appreciate the candor of his poems, the (pardon the inherent pun) frankness of the poems, the personal as driving force of the work, but sometimes I feel more like he's prattling on and on rather than bringing me a poem.
Gina
Apr 17, 2016 Gina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
I thought I would like this more since there are a couple of O'Hara poems that I already adored. I almost don't want to rate this because the more weighty image-based poems made me realize that I'm really not a poetry person and I might be very slow in becoming one. Oh well, I'm sure others will heartily enjoy this collection.
Vivian
"Animals" is one of my favorite poems of all time, and there were definitely similar gems besides that, but overall I was not as awestruck as I thought I would be. Which probably says more about how distracted I was while reading this and less about the quality of the poems, because O'Hara's weightily whimsical way with words cannot be contested.
Kevin
Sep 16, 2015 Kevin rated it really liked it
I am grateful that I've grown into the sort of person who enjoys O'Hara's poetry. My younger self would have found it an unbearable combination of self-absorption and insider's baseball. Now, I'd rather have O'Hara's cheekiness than almost anyone else's ponderousness.
Brendon Hertz
Apr 05, 2015 Brendon Hertz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good poetry and insights into daily life. Though I was recommended this book based on some very different poets, I was in many ways pleasantly surprised by some of the O'Hara poems I hadn't read previously. I'm more of a darkness man myself, but these were fun for a read-through.
Phil Overeem
Jul 30, 2013 Phil Overeem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the affirmative strength of O'Hara's poetry, as well as its passionate personal quality. However, much of it is so personal, especially in its social references, that it insulates the casual reader. I don't regret having taken it on.
Bob McCauley
Jul 15, 2013 Bob McCauley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great smaller introduction to Frank O'Hara - doesn't have everything (Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara is a must if you get hooked.) A great American poet - I consider his best work to be surreal with transitions and juxtapositions... Buy, and if you can't find it in your library!
DilanAc
Aug 06, 2016 DilanAc rated it liked it
Poems of youth and friendship and love. They thrum with vitality and sexuality. His favorite punctuation mark is an !. The poems seem to be spontaneous (although that is probably not entirely true) and are worth reading aloud. I wonder how his work would have evolved if he didn't die so young.
Tosh
Feb 27, 2008 Tosh marked it as to-read
Mark Ford edited this collection and he also wrote the great biography on Raymond Roussel. So in a sense, I think I have all the poems here in this edition, but it's sort of like a mix-tape. It's Ford's favorite works, so that makes it interesting to me.
Ari
May 05, 2011 Ari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4.25/5

I loved this one. He's not the type of poet I read at all, but I fell completely in love with his style as I read poem after poem. Utterly brilliant.
Miles
Aug 09, 2015 Miles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, poetry
Favorite. I still don't know if I've read every poem. I'll find out eventually, but I refuse to read the poems in order.
Dayra
Jun 11, 2016 Dayra rated it really liked it
My two favorites from this collection where "Try! Try!" and "A True Account of Talking to the Sun on Fire Island."
Cameron Wilson
Dec 29, 2013 Cameron Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this a lot, so so so much, I'm so glad that I started reading irvine welsh and I can't wait to read more I loved it a million
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Frank O'Hara was born in Baltimore, Maryland and grew up in Grafton, Massachusetts. O'Hara served in the South Pacific and Japan as a sonarman on the destroyer USS Nicholas during World War II.

With the funding made available to veterans he attended Harvard University, where he roomed with artist/writer Edward Gorey. Although he majored in music and did some composing, his attendance was irregular
...more
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“I don't believe in god, so I don't have to make elaborately sounded structures. ... Pain always produces logic, which is very bad for you. ... As for measure and other technical apparatus, that's just common sense: if you're going to buy a pair of pants you want them to be tight enough so everyone will want to go to bed with you. There's nothing metaphysical about it.” 20 likes
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