My lovely friend Vanessa Napolitano has kindly provided this guest post for today!
Many of my favourite poets and poems have been recommended my friends, or have been discovered through anthologies or magazines or reading for fun. Frank O’Hara was part of a curriculum and in my way of approaching prescribed, curricula books, I was fairly indifferent to reading him, right up until the first line, when I fell pretty much in love with him.
O’Hara supposedly wrote on his lunch break and at parties, wrote with contemporary references and about friends, affectionately and affectedly. In the introduction to his collected work, Donald Allen says that his poems were a kind of record of his life. Whether it’s true or not, the breeziness in his poems make me feel like he wrote things down hurriedly but well, and I like the idea of him writing at his desk while eating a sandwich. He also wrote a poem called ‘In Memory of My Feelings (to Grace Hartigan)’ which sounds and maybe is very indulgent, but it is filled with amazing lines like “My quietness has a number of naked selves / so many pistols I have borrowed to protect myselves“.
This is the first poem I read of his:
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
View the intro/roundup.