Frank O’Hara as an Influence on Greta Gerwig and “Lady Bird”

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Although it’s not a surprise anymore, Frank O’Hara continues to pop up in unexpected corners of popular culture, often cited as an influence and lodestar for rock musicians, TV showrunners, and filmmakers.

I was happy to come across today’s installment: the wonderful actor and director Greta Gerwig, whose delightful, critically-acclaimed film Lady Bird has been nominated for multiple Oscars, is apparently a big O’Hara fan.

This piece in AnOther Magazine about Saoirse Ronan, the amazing young star of the film, lists a number of “the cultural references behind Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird.”  Ronan explains that Gerwig introduced her to a range of movies and books to help her prepare for the role, including John Hughes’s movies, Joan Didion’s essays on Sacramento, and, you guessed it, Frank O’Hara’s poetry.

As Ronan recalls, Gerwig “said Joan Didion would give me a sense of where Lady Bird comes from and the Lunch Poems are where she feels she’s destined to be – the life she’s destined to live, because it’s such a romantic view of New York.”

“O’Hara’s pocket book of poems is steeped in the rhythm and romance of Manhattan: honking cabs and muggy streets, languid hangovers, coffee and cigarettes. Published in 1964 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s revolutionary City Lights imprint, these wry, nimble glimpses of city life helped Ronan conjure Lady Bird’s dream of escape to New York and adulthood: ‘Greta said the Lunch Poems are where she feels she’s destined to be, or the life she’s destined to live.'”

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One Response to Frank O’Hara as an Influence on Greta Gerwig and “Lady Bird”

  1. Pingback: On Five Years of Locus Solus | Locus Solus: The New York School of Poets

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