The Baltimore Literary Heritage Project

Frank O'Hara
Frank O'Hara
"Frank O'Hara, article title
In Baltimore you think of hats and shoes, like Daddy did
I hardly ever think of June 27, 1926
when I came moaning into my mother's world
and tried to make it mine immediately
by screaming, sucking, urinating
and carrying on generally
it was quite a day
— from O'Hara's "Ode to Michael Goldberg's (Birth and Other Births)"

Frank O'Hara, best known for his spontaneous and pop-culture laden "I do this, I do that" poems, was one of the foremost poets of the New York School. This group of poets was heavily influenced by abstract expressionism art. During his lifetime, Frank O'Hara worked as a curator for the Museum of Modern Art in New York, wrote for Art News as an art critic/reviewer, and published seven books of poetry.

Although O'Hara was born March 27, 1926 at Maryland General Hospital, his parents always maintained that he was born June 27, to conceal that their son's conception occurred before their marriage. While in Baltimore, Frank's father managed a men's clothing store. The O'Hara family lived in Baltimore for only eighteen months before returning to Massachusetts in 1927.

After graduating from high school in 1944, Frank O'Hara joined the Navy and served on the USS Nicholas as a sonar operator during WWII. After the war, he enrolled at Harvard and published poems and stories in the Harvard Advocate. He left Harvard in 1950 with a B.A. in English and received his M.A. a year later from the University of Michigan. In 1951, O'Hara moved to New York where he worked at the front desk of the Museum of Modern Art. His first book of poetry, A City Winter, and Other Poems, was published in 1952. In 1953, he left the museum for an editorial associate's position at Art News and was rehired two years later by the Museum of Modern as a special assistant, eventually becoming a curator.

Frank O'Hara died in 1966 after being hit by a dune buggy while on vacation in Fire Island, New York.

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