Frank O’Hara: Lunch Poems

  • Frank O'Hara

  • Talk. Frank O'Hara: Lunch Poems. Carpenter Center, CRC/bookshop, Jul 25, 2016

  • Talk. Frank O'Hara: Lunch Poems. Carpenter Center, CRC/bookshop, Jul 25, 2016

Book Event + Talk

  1. Jul 25, 2016, 12 – 2 pm
Level 3, CRC/bookshop

On the fiftieth anniversary of Frank O’Hara’s death in 1966, CRC/bookshop hosts an afternoon of readings and music to celebrate the life and work of O’Hara. Readers from the Cambridge area, including Gerrit Lansing, poet and classmate of O’Hara’s, will recite from his Lunch Poems (1964). 

Born in 1926 in Baltimore, Maryland, O’Hara grew up in a suburb of Worcester, Massachusetts. He was a serious music student, studying piano at the New England Conservatory. Following his service in World War II, O’Hara studied at Harvard College, studying music before settling on a major in English. While at Harvard, he met John Ashbery and began publishing poems in the Harvard Advocate. In 1951, O’Hara moved to New York. He was soon employed at Museum of Modern Art while seriously pursuing a career in writing. O’Hara soon become one of the most distinguished members of the New York School poets, which also included Ashbery, Barbara Guest, James Schuyler, and Kenneth Koch. Known as “a poet among painters,” O’Hara’s friendship with painters Larry Rivers, Jackson Pollock, and Jasper Johns was a source of inspiration. Many other artists were part of his life including Willem de Kooning, Jane Freilicher, Grace Hartigan, Alex Katz, Franz Kline, Alfred Leslie, Joan Mitchell, and Fairfield Poter. 

O’Hara challenged the norms of poetic form creating art with events from daily life. Poet Mark Doty says of O’Hara's poems “They seem, indeed, to spill one into the other creating one immense canvas which displays in all its parts O’Hara’s character engaged in all the business of living—alternately joyful, petulant, obtuse, tired, awed.”

Thank you to Steven Brown for contributing to this event.

Agency for Critical Inquiry

Frank O’Hara: Lunch Poems is part of the CCVA initiative Agency for Critical Inquiry, an open invitation to academic and Boston-area communities to connect with the Carpenter Center, forging a site for collective learning in the public realm.