Frank O Hara

Author: Frank O’ Hara

Profile: Frank O’Hara was an American poet, writer and art critic or curator. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland and died in Fire Island, New York, U.S. He completed his B.A. in 1950 at Harvard University and M.A. in English Literature in 1951 at the University of Michigan.

He was the pioneer of The New York School, literary movement. He gained importance in the art world of New York City, because of his employment as curator at the Museum of Modern Art. In the New York School, he is considered to be a leading figure where an informal group of musicians, writers and artists have drawn inspiration from action painting, jazz, abstract expressionism, surrealism and contemporary avant-garde art movements. As far as content and tone is concerned, Frank’s poetry is personal and has been described as sounding like ‘entries in a diary’. His poetry has also been described as at time genuinely celebratory, ironic, urbane and very often wildly funny consisting material and associations foreign to academic verse. Immediacy of life, feeling that poetry should be between two persons instead of two pages is captured in O’Hara’s writings. Frank attended St.John’s High School. Born out of wedlock his parents always tried to hide his real date of birth. From 1941 to 1944 he studied piano at the New England Conservatory in Boston. He also served in Japan and the South Pacific a sonarman during World War II on the destroyer USS Nicholas.

Writing style: Frank O’ Hara’s genre is American poetry.

Published Texts:


Works by Frank O’Hara at Open Library

Works by or about Frank O’Hara in libraries (WorldCat catalog)


1951 – A City Winter and Other Poems. Two Drawings by Larry Rivers.

1953 – Oranges: 12 pastorals

1957 – Meditations in an Emergency

1960 – Second Avenue. Cover drawing by Larry Rivers

1960 – Odes. Prints by Michael Goldberg

1964 – Lunch Poems

1965 – Love Poems (Tentative Title)

Posthumous works

1967 – In Memory of My Feelings

1971 – The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara

1974 – The Selected Poems of Frank O’Hara

1975 – Standing Still and Walking in New York

1977 – Early Writing

1977 – Poems Retrieved

1978 – Selected Plays

1997 – Amorous Nightmares of Delay: Selected Plays

2013 – Selected Poems

2013 – Poems Retrieved

2014 – Lunch Poems


1959 – Jackson Pollock (New York: George Braziller, Inc.)

1960 – New Spanish painting and sculpture (New York: The Museum of Modern Art)

1965 – Robert Motherwell: with selections from the artist’s writings. By Frank O’Hara (New York: The Museum of Modern Art)

1966 – Nakian (New York: The Museum of Modern Art)

1975 – Art Chronicles, 1954-1966 (New York: G. Braziller)

’Hara’s works have influenced Frankie Cosmos’s music

A 1973 chamber ensemble work by Morton Feldman, the American composer, is ‘For Frank O’Hara’

O’Hara’s poem has been used in 2014 as sampling by Irish artist Davit Kitt on the release of ‘Having a Coke with You’

In films

In ‘Beastly’ the 2011 film the love-struck main characters read ‘Having a Coke with You’, O’Hara’s poem, aloud to each other

In literature

In William Boyd’s 2002 novel, ‘Any Human Heart’, O’Hara is a minor character

The basis of Paul Legault’s Lunch Poems 2, is O’Hara’s Lunch Poems

In television

In the season 1 episode of the HBO series Bored to Death, ‘The Case of the Missing Screenplay’ the main character loses a screenplay written by                           Jim Jarmusch about the life of Frank O’Hara

O’Hara’s poetry collection, Meditations in an Emergency has reference in many episodes of Mad Men (season 2)

In the final episode of ‘Normal People’ based on Sally Rooney’s eponymous novel, Marianne is offered a book of Frank O’Hara poetry by Connell for her birthday.

In Plays

In Rachel Bond’s 2017 play At the Old Place, the poetry of Frank O’Hara is prominently featured


A plaque was unveiled one of O’Hara’s New York City residences on June 10,      2014