More & More Frank …

You’ll have noticed, if not from this blog then from elsewhere, quite a lot of brouhaha around the 50th anniversary of the death of New York poet, Frank O’Hara on July 25th. 1966. Some – a mass reading of Lunch Poems outside the South Bank’s Poetry Library – just gone; more to come. On Sunday, July 24th in London there’s a one-day symposium – The Day Before O’Hara Died – organised around O’Hara’s life and work at the ICA. As well as talks, readings, discussions, there will be a number of rare and limited editions from the Poetry Library’s collection on display. And then, less grandiloquently, there’s a celebration of O’Hara’s poetry at Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham on the evening of Wednesday, July 27th. The poet, Matthew Welton, will talk about the importance of O’Hara’s work and a clutch of others – Becky Cullen, Leah Wilkins, Gregory Woods, David Belbin and myself, will experience the joy of reading a selection of the poems aloud.

I don’t know if anyone is going to be reading “My Heart”, but if they’re not, maybe they should.

MY HEART

I’m not going to cry all the time
nor shall I laugh all the time,
I don’t prefer one “strain” to another.
I’d have the immediacy of a bad movie,
not just a sleeper, but also the big,
overproduced first-run kind, I want to be
at least as alive as the vulgar. And if
some aficionado of my mess says “That’s
no like Frank!”, all to the good! I
don’t wear brown and grey suits all the time,
do I? No. I wear workshirts to the opera,
often. I want my feet to be be,
I want my face to be shaven, and my heart –
you can’t plan on the heart, but
the better part of it, my poetry, is open.

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Out to Lunch with Frank

Yesterday, at the instigation of Edwina Attlee and a small collaborative group sheltering in plain sight under the name, Sitting Room, some twenty to thirty people, my daughter Molly Ernestine and myself included, gathered in the foyer of The Poetry Library in London’s Royal Festival Hall to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the death of the poet Frank O’Hara with a reading of his collection, Lunch Poems, in its entirety. Papers were shuffled, poems were duly read and savoured, sandwiches were eaten; copies of the City Lights Pocket Poets edition of Lunch Poems (none of them, I imagine, firsts) were passed from hand to hand, shared, relished, laughed over and wondered at, enjoyed. In that good company, Frank, I like to think, would have felt quite at home.

O'Hara 1

O'Hara 2