Book 33: Lunch Poems by Frank O’Hara

This is the first of many course-required readings I’ll be reviewing here. As far as I’m concerned, if I read a book, by choice or not, it counts towards my challenge. I was required to read this for a poetry workshop, and I finished it up early to get a review up for y’all since it’s been a minute and I was a book behind schedule.

First of all, O’Hara wasn’t my favorite; he’s from the New York school of poets, which again, isn’t my favorite but is certainly well renowned and valuable. I generally prefer very current, young, more experimental poets, but that’s just my taste. I will admit, he grew on me through the course of the book.

Rumor has it that these poems were all written during his lunch break, and therefor titled appropriately. Many references to food and friends as well as common events around town lead me to believe that the rumor is true. This volume includes a few of his better works in my opinion, especially “Steps”.

Take a moment to read “Having a Coke with You”  and see how you like O’Hara’s style.

O’Hara’s writing is complex; he isn’t the most accessible poet, which is a large part of my problem with some of his works. He’s also a poet whose poems don’t always make sense, and that’s fine, but not my favorite. I prefer that creative writing be accessible without a literary background. Some of his poems contain stanzas that ramble, while some stanzas are incredibly constructed oddities. I particularly enjoy the second stanza of “Rhapsody,” for the surreal imagery and mythological components. It’s probably my favorite poem in the collection. In Lunch Poems I often find myself falling in love with a few lines and not loving the way that they relate to the rest of the poem. In some cases, however, the entire poem itself is quite moving.

O’Hara undoubtedly has a way with imagery, at times docile and intricate, at times quite gritty. “On the way to San Remo,” is especially gritty, but incredibly vivid.

I wouldn’t call this a feminist read by any means, so I’ll hold off and try to pick up something with feminist themes asap! I don’t have as much spare time as I had for the first eight months of this challenge, but I plan on keeping up my work regardless. I’m in the 30’s and on track thus far.

Lunch Poems

I give this book an 8/10.

Happy reading,


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