revised reading assignment: Frank O’Hara


from Lunch Poems:

Other Poems:

Choose one, two, all, or none of these prompts, but please respond to O’Hara and post your response on our class page under the category “Interventions”

  1. Close read a poem/poems: O’Hara is not a formally experimental poet, but how does he experiment with meaning-making?
  2. Close read a poem/poems: Is O’Hara a personal poet? Does he create intimacy with the reader? Respond to the self who writes the poems.  
  3. Is O’Hara kitsch? Is he avant-garde? Does he straddle the line between both?
  4. David Lehman, in The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets, discusses those poets’ use of “blagues” (which translates to “jokes” in French): 
The blague was the avant-garde gesture par excellence. It denoted a deadpan jest or prank with a thick layer of irony added: mockery mingled with self-mockery, doubt with defiance. The blague, writes historian Noel Annan, was “the joke which threw doubt on everything, poisoned faith and murdered respect.” It took the form of “the spoof, the lark, the snigger and the knowing smile, grotesque mirth and hilarious laughter,” and its intent was to “send up reality.” (Lehman 294)
Write about some “blagues” that you find in O’Hara. Do you agree that the presence of blagues and the gestures they denote make him avant-garde?  

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