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Book reviews for "O'Hara,_Frank" sorted by average review score:

Hymns of St. Bridget & Other Writings
Published in Paperback by The Owl Press (20 November, 2001)
Authors: Frank O'Hara and Bill Berkson
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"Hello St. Bridget . . . How's tricks?"
Alternately dashing & coy, these rapturous hymns ride a virgin-mary-go-round of respect & adulation for the skewed, tilted & impossible to love. With their conversational odes to the crooked spires of literary conspirators & the neighborhoods they rise from, Berkson & O'Hara erect an irresistible testament to friendship & the cracked open world of charming collaboration. The precarious steeple of St. Bridget's church in New York City might be gone, but what this pair of poet raconteurs have done will keep its pointed spirit forever lodged in anyone who eavesdrops on this reflectively genuflecting collection.

spirit of new york a la collaboration
What a pleasure it is to read the friendship between the lines of two such aesthetically rich poets as it was preserved onto paper 30 years ago. At first I read this book trying to figure out who wrote what. Oh, that sounds like a Berkson line, or that sounds like O'hara. But the pieces in this book really do, for the most part, lend themselves to being read as if written by a singular author; true of the best of collaborations. The work thus feels whole, controlled, and, simulataneously, spontaneous and wild. Lots of gratitude to Owl Press for saving this miraculous work from dust bin of history.

O'Hara at his best
What other pair from the New York School would dare write poems about a crooked steeple? These poems (The Hymns) are sublime, silly, and brilliant, and are the perfect appetizer to the Other Writings, especially the fictional correspondace between Angelicus and Fidelio Fobb which had me rolling for hours. Even the "Unfinished Novel" was interestingly baffling albeit fleeting. All and all an incredibly savory mix of collaborations by two of the best poets in America!

Digressions on Some Poems by Frank O'Hara: A Memoir
Published in Hardcover by Farrar Straus & Giroux (April, 2003)
Author: Joe LeSueur
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among other things, a joy to read and hard to put down
This is a remarkable book. If you ever loved Frank O'Hara's poetry, the book is really a necessity. It gives personal reminiscences about the writing of some of the famous poems: 'The day Lady died', 'A true account of talking to the Sun...', etc. It brings many of the more obscure and personal poems into remarkable focus. It also illumines many of names and references that appear throughout the poems. All of this from probably the closest witness to O'Hara's life, creative and otherwise. For these reasons, it is a quite an unusual treasure.

But beyond its usefulness to O'Hara's poetry, the book is the story of a friendship. And an account of a special time in American arts and letters - told from one of the members at the party. LeSueur's presence in O'Hara's life might have been partly due to charm and good lucks (which he discusses), but that apparently never stopped him from being important to O'Hara. (The famous 'Lunch Poems' is dedicated to him.) We are fortunate that he was a careful observer and was blessed with a remarkable memory. Apparently he died shortly before the book was published, which is poignant, because the book is also a tribute to LeSueur's life, and a celebration.

Remembering a great friend
Joe LeSueur suspected himself of being related to Joan Crawford (whose real name is Lucille LeSueur) somehow so he 'deserves' to write about his friendship with one of the greatest, quirkiest, most breathtaking urban poets of all time. It was a remarkable friendship too. Verging on love, but never quite turning into, or just silent about the whole thing, playful, full of respect, full of tenderness and yet ultimately human; the quarrels, the harsh words, everything is there... The friend tiptoes around his subject, peeps through the curtain now and then, dissapears only to reappear, is by turns sad and nostalgic, funny and obscene. Frank o'hara would have loved this book.

In Memory of My Feelings: Frank O'Hara and American Art
Published in Hardcover by University of California Press (September, 1999)
Author: Russell Ferguson
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Frank O'Hara poetry makes constant references to painting. He was friends with many painters, and was a curator at MOMA. This book provides a convenient visual tour of O'Hara art-world connections, including many paintings, drawings, and photos of the poet, along with his collaborations with Larry Rivers and Joe Brainard.

A "must" for all Frank O'Hara fans and enthusiasts.
In Memory Of My Feelings is a collection which examines contemporary artist Frank O'Hara and his influence on American art, providing an excellent catalog of both his works and portraits of O'Hara as presented by his contemporary artists. Color pictures on almost every page accompany a scholarly survey of his life, times, and the art circles he worked with. An excellent catalog.

Amorous Nightmares of Delay: Selected Plays (Paj Books)
Published in Paperback by Johns Hopkins Univ Pr (February, 1997)
Author: Frank O'Hara
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experimental theater with a sense of humor
Much like his poems, Frank O'Hara's plays are hit-or-miss. Most of them were clearly written in a matter of minutes, and never intended for production. Many are simply inside jokes about his group of friends. But the good plays have no equal in the experimental theater of the 50's and 60's. "The General Returns From One Place to Another," one of the few in this collection that was actually produced, is a hilarious piece about a MacArthur-like figure who enacts dramatic returns to Pacific islands where no one has ever heard of him. Most of the other plays are more like surrealist poems in dialogue form. For aficionados of O'Hara, this is a necessary companion to his _Collected Poems_.

Frank O'Hara : poet among painters
Published in Unknown Binding by G. Braziller ()
Author: Marjorie Perloff
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This book has withstood test of time
This book, first published over twenty years ago, has certainly held up well. There are other books on O'Hara, but this remains the gold standard.

Give My Regards to Eighth Street: Collected Writings of Morton Feldman
Published in Paperback by Exact Change (26 January, 2001)
Authors: B. H. Friedman and Frank O'Hara
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a primary document of the American avant-garde
" The day Jackson Pollock died I called a certain man I knew- a very great painter-and told him the news. After a long pause he said, in a voice so low it was barely a whisper,' That son of a b---he did it'. . . . With this supreme gesture Pollock had wrapped up an era and walked away from it." Feldman was very much part of that era, the Fifties when American art was becoming the most important post-war art there was its unique expressions. Sure Europeans tried to copy us but only became more academic about as Boulez and his excursions into chance/aleatoric gesturing. This collection of essays very clearly reveals how important American expeimentalism was to music. Feldman's forever endeavor to merely create, create at a high intensity working like a Dutch diamond cutter,or lens grinder,toying with creative means as his use of indelible ink, this he said makes you think about what your writing than how you are writing, puts the creative process back into the head.Or composing at the piano, which slows you down so you need to think more. He followed the intellectual currents, anything that brought a sense of richness and other dimension to his art, he knew for instance Henri Bergson's concept of memory and time,how that might affect his music,and painterly means was second nature to him hanging out at the Cedar Bar in New York talking for hours on Light,texture,perception,shape,design,concept, facility,gesture,timbre,tone,chiarscuro, there is ample historical data here as well, almost like a subtext of these ,like an unwritten history of the avant-garde, a "Conversation with Stravinsky"(not really),his first meeting with John Cage(after a performance of Webern), Earle Brown, Christian Wolff, also his travels to Berlin, and England and experiencing the avant-garde through Cornelius Cardew, and British experimentalism.His last years was devoted to long durational compositions, and he merely said he had more time to compose in these years,but Feldman here is filled with marvelous quotes,things,items,shapes for the mind"I knew I was going to be a professional the day I first became practical.Practicality took the form of copying out my music neatly,keeping my desk tidy and organized-all the unimportant things that seem unrelated to the work,yet somehow do affect it.". He also knows how to look from greater heights from mountains, tothe substance of modernity, those who stopped creating and became more interested in themselves as Stockhausen were "Modernists"; for Feldman allowing your materials,the shape,structures of your music tell you the secrets of creativity was most important and became a cause.

Homage to Frank O'Hara
Published in Paperback by Big Sky (October, 1988)
Authors: Bill Berkson and Lesueur Joe Berkson
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For the Frank Freak--Deliciously Personal
For those looking for the poems, go to the Collected, Lunch Poems, and Meditations in an Emergency. But for the O'Hara afficionados among us who want to know things beyond the work, this is better than Brad Gooch's biography City Poet: the virtual album of photos is stunning, it weighs less, and it probably has all that one wants from a biography anyway--that is to say, uncensored recollections of the man from his friends, pals, and lovers.

Highlights include Peter Schjeldahl's obit/feature from the Village Voice in 1966 and Patsy Southgate's somewhat salacious recounting of a particular evening with O'Hara.

The details of Frank's condition just before his death are somewhat wrenching, but the memories of his emotional state are happy ones...Enjoy.

The Selected Poems of Frank O'Hara
Published in Paperback by Random House Trade Paperbacks (March, 1974)
Authors: Frank O'Hara, Frank C'Hara, and Donald Allen
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The Perfect Lunch Date
It's not exactly pocket-sized, but this volume can be conveniently and inconspicuously carried to lunch uptown, midtown, downtown, or out of town. There is a great collection of poems here (no plays), from the short and sweet to the longer and sweeter. All set in beautiful type on nice, formal heavier paper and with the inclusion of "Personism: A Manifesto" for an introduction and the cover art by O'Hara's personal friend. The cover is more than just interesting, however, it really informs some of the questions about confessional poetry raised by O'Hara's work. Just look at it for awhile... By the way, if you haven't yet read Frank O'Hara's poetry, this volume is an excellent and accessible place to start. Grab a fork, a cup of coffee, and dig in!

The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara
Published in Paperback by University of California Press (March, 1995)
Authors: Frank O'Hara, Donald Merriam Allen, Allen Donald, and John Ashbery
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A brilliant writer, but his poems lack depth.
O'Hara was a brilliant poet who seemingly had nothing to write about. His language is incredibly imaginative, and his productivity was astounding. But in the end the vast majority of his poems were little more than frivolous ditties about his friends and the artsy scene around New York City. It's almost a shame that with his amazing talents O'Hara didn't live in a somewhat more challenging set of circumstances - it would have been interesting to hear what he had to say. But reading his poems is like reading the work of an incredibly gifted, yet ultimately vacuous, artist.

the virtues of shallowness
An earlier reviewer describes O'Hara's poetry as shallow and vacuous. Shallow, maybe. But not vacuous. O'Hara's interested in the minutiae of daily life - buying a pack of Gauloises on the way to friends for dinner, seeing a headline about Lana Turner collapsing, the hard hats worn by construction workers. Read one poem and you might come away thinking it's trivial. But his life's work - taken as a whole - is an intelligent, alert, funny and perceptive record of a life lived to the full (I think someone else may have said that before me, somewhere). Thing is, O'Hara's interested in surfaces - things, events, trivia - because they have meaning. So his poetry is shallow in a very real and virtuous sense. He's not trying to make big statements, a la Charles Olson or Robert Lowell. What I find amazing is how moving his poetry can so often be, as in The Day Lady Died. On one reading, it's simply a list of things he does on the way to friends for dinner. But the impact is enormous. The poem gets you right up close to O'Hara as he learns of Billie Holiday's death and remembers hearing her sing. Nothing vacuous about that.

Lucky Pierre Style
This poet changed my life. This poet had style, made his own breaks (luck), had great friends because he gave a damn about them, and loved art unconditionally in any form but with a special love for the city, for the life and art and noise (music) of the city. This poet wore a tie and jacket and swiveled out the door of the Museum of Modern Art with more hip in his pocket than you, Bro. This poet was gay and and every man considered him their best friend and every woman wanted to sleep with him. This poet grew up near Boston, went to the Navy and Hafvard and spent a year in Ann Arbor but was New York all the way, the very heart and soul of New York and the New York School of poets. This poet extends the line from Keats to Rimbaud into the American future.

Collected Stories of John O'Hara
Published in Hardcover by Random House Trade (February, 1985)
Authors: John O'Hara and Frank MacShane
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Some good stories fill this volume. But the recent attempt at a John O'Hara revival failed for a reason. He's not that good. If you've read one O'Hara story, you've read them all. O'Hara's same obsessions are played out in every story. His two obsessions were 1) Status 2) The obsession with and assumption that if a male and female are left alone together, one will immediately try and jump the other's bones. Maybe I've led a dull life, but I've actually been left alone with girls and women when neither I nor they tried to bed the other. The other thing is O'Hara thought he was one of the greatest writers ever...but, by his own admission, was not that well read. He mainly read Hemingway and Fitzgerald over and over. Not bad role models at all. But O'Hara famously said in a review of a Hemingway book that Hemingway was the greatest writer since Shakespeare (suggesting, of course, that O'Hara was the SECOND greatest writer since Shakespeare!). But O'Hara once responsed to a critic who said his writing resembled Tolstoy's (pulEEASE!) that, "Gee, I've never even READ Tolstoy." Now how could O'Hara say Hemingway was the greatest writer since Shakespeare when O'Hara had never read Tolstoy!!! Even ego-ridden Hemingway admitted Tolstoy was a greater writer than himself. And how can a literary writer dare sit down to write when he hasn't yet read the master, Tolstoy. O'Hara was okay, but not great. Yeah, no wonder that revival attempt in the mid-90's flopped.

a shame this book is out-of-print
This is an astonishing collection of short stories from a past master that everyone has forgotten, but could surely learn from, or relish. I liked the novellas best, including "Imagine Kissing Pete", "Ninety Minutes Away", and "Natica Jackson." What I was astonished by was how quickly they were read; it was like watching and feeling life unfolding before my eyes. The first masterpiece in this collection is "Over the River and Through the Wood" that must be one of the most disturbing stories ever written. It is disgusting to me that not a single O'Hara story was included in the recent "Best American Short Stories of the Century"; if a claim can be made that Hemingway, Faulkner and Fitzgerald must be included, then so must O'Hara. John O'Hara is an American legend. He should be revived.

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