In his poetry, Frank O’Hara, the “painter among the poets,” pictures the city of New York as a (nostalgically) happy place. The poem “Naphtha” (1959) can be, in a way, considered a perfect illustration of his skill to surreally glue together the history of a city, a nation and the whole of Western culture with the acute presence of a place that’s rampant and seething. At the same time, this place lies under the cover of daily life and an almost magical banality or informality.
The paper will address O’Hara’s poetics, the influence of the fine arts (especially Jackson Pollock) on his work. The poet’s relations to French literature and Paris, its stronghold, in the context of representing New York City in his two collections of poetry Meditations in an Emergency (1959) and Lunch Poems (1964) will also be considered.