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Selected Poems

4.45 of 5 stars 4.45  ·  rating details  ·  612 ratings  ·  37 reviews
The first new selection of O’Hara’s work to come along in several decades. In this “marvellous compilation” (The New Yorker), editor Mark Ford reacquaints us with one of the most joyous and innovative poets of the postwar period.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 8th 2009 by Knopf (first published February 12th 1974)
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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
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.
Matt Turner
O'Hara's poetry has an extremely rare symmetry of form and content, and is accompanied by a feeling that it was written by someone who no longer wrote poetry, or somehow had "moved past" it. His work stands, to this reader, as the standard by which subsequent work should be judged - in that it is contemporary enough, but also avoids so many of the modernist pitfalls (excessive theorizing, for instance) in the way the poems really just come off the page, and seem to lose themselves. I wish O'Hara ...more
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."
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
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
Michelle Luksh
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"

(view spoiler)


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 gre
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
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. ...more
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.
" 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"
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.
"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.
Bob McCauley
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!
Cameron Wilson
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
Feb 27, 2008 Tosh marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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.
Phil Overeem
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.
Matthew Savoca
if i could give this book 11 stars, i would, even though i can't get through every poem, there are at least 8 or 12 that are automatically my top 8 or 12 favorite poems in the world
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.
May 07, 2008 Michael marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Thus far in my poetry-reading life, I have not been a big fan of O'Hara. But so many other people like him that I'll try again to see what they see.
5 stars for love, a lthough the selection is uneven. Looking forward to the new Selected, which is supposed to be much better.
I liked it enough to put it on my Amazon wish list, to have and
to hold. I'm lucky to have run into it at the library.
Sometimes O'Hara is dense and impossible to figure out and sometimes he has the most amazing phrase or poem. I want to read more.
Dan Mccarthy
He wanted you to understand what you were reading and wonder at what you understood. Still fresh and alive.
Ed Smith
Great book. I re-read when I need to write a NYC style
poem for my Brevitas writers group.
Yet another great collection from my absolute favorite poet in the whole wide world
Immediate, impressionist, personal, awkward, amusing, outward, funny, good. What a pilf.
Beth Boylan
I adore Frank O'Hara, and have always held this book as a treasure on my shelf.
I imprinted on Frank O'Hara when I was a teenager. This is a fine collection.
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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 about Frank O'Hara...
Lunch Poems The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara Meditations in an Emergency Poems Retrieved In Memory Of My Feelings

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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.” 17 likes
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