The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara

He was the first poet I read exhaustively. He was like my first poet love in that way. He was strange and unknowable and I was excited by his sudden confessions, which seemed improper, too intimate for our level of familiarity.

I met him in a college poetry class. My teacher Jennifer Willoughby brought in “The Day Lady Died” and encouraged us to write something “immediate,” something in the moment, something of the day-to-day. It engulfed me, that assignment, and became the way I interacted with poems for a long, long time.

At a used bookstore near campus, I found this book. It was $18.95, or almost 10 packs of cigarettes. I bought it. I carried it around with me for years, and then while I was in grad school it followed me around some more. Once, a boy I liked read pieces from it to me, and I read some back. I made steady progress through it and Frank became like an obsession for me. Obsession’s not the right word. He became a kind of dream for me.

I still love him. I still think of him. I still go back to this book from time to time. I still dream.

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