Times Square
Frank O'Hara's 'Lunch Poems' -- at 50
Frank O'Hara's 'Lunch Poems' -- at 50

Frank O'Hara's “Lunch Poems” (City Lights: 86 pp., $14.95) — which has just been reissued in a 50th anniversary hardcover edition — recalls a world of pop art, political and cultural upheaval and (in its own way) a surprising innocence. Wide-eyed, curious, off-the-cuff, O'Hara drops names and jots down the most mundane experiences: buying a hamburger or a malted, wandering through Times Square. “Everything / suddenly honks: it is 12:40 of / a Thursday,” he writes in “A Step Away From Them.” A line like this, and its attendant sensibility, first made me, made many of us, want to write poetry. And yet, it’s a mistake, I...