OVERRIDE

Digressions on Some Poems by Frank O'Hara

A Memoir

Joe LeSueur

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

An unprecedented eyewitness account of the New York School, as seen between the lines of O’Hara’s poetry

Joe LeSueur lived with Frank O’Hara from 1955 until 1965, the years when O’Hara wrote his greatest poems, including “To the Film Industry in Crisis,” “In Memory of My Feelings,” “Having a Coke with You,” and the famous Lunch Poems—so called because O’Hara wrote them during his lunch break at the Museum of Modern Art, where he worked as a curator. (The artists he championed include Jackson Pollock, Joseph Cornell, Grace Hartigan, Jane Freilicher, Joan Mitchell, and Robert Rauschenberg.) The flowering of O’Hara’s talent, cut short by a fatal car accident in 1966, produced some of the most exuberant, truly celebratory lyrics of the twentieth century. And it produced America’s greatest poet of city life since Whitman.

Alternating between O’Hara’s poems and LeSueur’s memory of the circumstances that inspired them, Digressions on Some Poems by Frank O’Hara is a literary commentary like no other—an affectionate, no-holds-barred memoir of O’Hara and the New York that animated his work: friends, lovers, movies, paintings, streets, apartments, music, parties, and pickups. This volume, which includes many of O’Hara’s best-loved poems, is the most intimate, true-to-life portrait we will ever have of this quintessential American figure and his now legendary times.

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Digressions on Some Poems by Frank O'Hara
WHO I AM AND WHERE I AM COMING FROMAccording to "Four Apartments," Frank and I met on New Year's Eve 1951 at a party John Ashbery gave in his Greenwich Village apartment. Not so, it turns out, and it was John who set me straight--John, who has always been known for his infallible memory and for never being wrong about anything. But I had a more compelling reason for accepting his account of how Frank and I met. For when, in the spring of 1969 not long after my memoir appeared in The World, he sidled up to me at a party downtown and asserted in that cool,
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REVIEWS

Praise for Digressions on Some Poems by Frank O'Hara

"Allen Ginsberg complimented Frank O'Hara on his 'common ear for our deep song.' Joe LeSueur, who lived with O'Hara for ten years, has a gifted ear of his own as well as the rare ability to make the gossip of decades past seem new and newly worth hearing. LeSueur shrewdly organizes his memories in the form of commentary on selected O'Hara poems, an admirable conceit that makes Digressions a must-read for fans of this central figure of the N.Y. School."
-David Lehman

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Joe LeSueur

  • Joe LeSueur was a decorated soldier when he moved to New York in 1949, at the age of twenty-five. He held jobs as an editor, critic, and screenwriter. He died in 2001 in East Hampton.
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Digressions on Some Poems by Frank O'Hara

A Memoir

Joe LeSueur

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