Great news for fans of Frank O’Hara — the long out-of-print yet essential volume of O’Hara’s work, Poems Retrieved, has just been reissued by City Lights. Hopefully this means we will soon be seeing sparkling new editions of Standing Still and Walking in New York, Early Writing, and other hard-to-find works that are crucial to the O’Hara canon.
From the publisher:
Originally published under Donald Allen’s classic Grey Fox Press imprint, Poems Retrieved is a substantial part of Frank O’Hara’s oeuvre, containing over two hundred pages of previously unpublished poetry discovered after the publication of his posthumous Collected Poems in 1971. Featuring a new introduction by O’Hara expert and friend, poet and art critic Bill Berkson, Retrieved has been completely reformatted and is essential for any reader of twentieth century poetry. As Berkson writes, “The breadth of what Frank O’Hara took to be poetry is reflected in the many kinds of poems he wrote. . . . Turning the pages of any of his collections, you wonder what he didn’t turn his hand to, what variety of poem he left untried or didn’t, in some cases, as if in passing, anticipate.”
The book comes garlanded with wonderful blurbs re-assessing O’Hara and his importance, by figures like Marjorie Perloff and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, two names I enjoyed seeing side by side:
“While the reputation of many mid-twentieth century poets has declined, Frank O’Hara’s keeps rising and rising: today’s readers cannot get enough of his brave, jaunty, self-lacerating, funny, poignant, mysterious, and always surprising lyric. Poems Retrieved, originally published in 1977 by the late Don Allen’s Grey Fox Press and long out of print, contains more than 200 pages of poems that Allen found after he had assembled the monumental Collected Poems for Alfred A. Knopf in 1971. As Allen noted in his Preface, and as Bill Berkson shows us in his excellent new introduction, these ‘poems retrieved,’ ranging as they do over O’Hara’s entire career, are a necessary complement to the Collected, an integral component of the poet’s oeuvre. No one interested in O’Hara’s poetry–indeed, no one interested in the poetic ethos of the American 1950s and ’60s–can afford to be without this volume.”–Marjorie Perloff, Professor Emerita of English at Stanford University, and author of Frank O’Hara: Poet Among Painters
“The gentle intelligence and hip urbanity that Frank O’Hara expressed in his writing, indeed as a person, has nearly vanished, as much as the city that inspired him. His love for the wild vision, in all its artful abstraction, and his erudite passion for the common muse, has proven to be the true resonant poetry of our anxious human condition. We need him.”—Thurston Moore, musician