It’s probably not a surprise that the work of Frank O’Hara, the author of a book called Lunch Poems, is overflowing with images of food and drink — from the “glass of papaya juice” at the end of “A Step Away from Them” and the “just plain scrambled eggs” in “For Grace, After a Party” to the “liver sausage sandwich” (ew) in “Music.”
For the series called “Art Cooking,” part of her educational YouTube channel “The Art Assignment,” Sarah Urist Green has zeroed in precisely on this aspect O’Hara’s work, and produced a charming and informative video devoted to the life and work of Frank O’Hara, and its connections to the delights of eating and sharing food with friends. For this episode, Green is joined by her husband, the novelist John Green, and two wonderful poets, who also happen to be friends and former graduate students of mine, Paige Lewis and Kaveh Akbar.
In the video, titled “Having a Coke with Frank O’Hara,” Sarah Urist Green interweaves a lively introduction to O’Hara’s life and work with the preparation of a delicious-looking avocado salad (inspired by O’Hara’s “Poem (“Light clarity avocado salad in the morning”), followed by some cheeseburgers and a chocolate malted (from “A Step Away From Them”). Along the way, Paige and Kaveh both read from O’Hara’s work, and the gang shares a coke while O’Hara reads his perennial favorite — and Valentine’s Day classic — “Having a Coke With You.”
The whole thing is a lot of fun, and it may even make you want to try out Green’s avocado salad recipe, eat a good burger, and read some of O’Hara delightful poems.
(The video was made in conjunction with the terrific new YouTube series called Ours Poetica, which Paige created with John Green, and I was honored to play the tiny role of providing “O’Hara protips”).