About the Project

“The self in O’Hara is, then, at once transparent and opaque—perhaps his deepest contradiction.”

— James Breslin

Frank O’Hara was a prominent figure in the New York School of poets. His poetry provokes thought, laughter, and confusion, and his style is often distinguished by its personal tone: O’Hara makes numerous references both to the popular culture of his time and to his personal life in his poetry.

However, while some poets’ writing has been heavily critiqued and preserved in anthology, Frank O’Hara is not one such poet. Many of his references can be difficult to decode for readers today without background context. By annotating O’Hara’s poetry, we aim to make artists like O’Hara more accessible to modern readers.

How it Works

If you click on anything highlighted in yellow, a Genius sidebar will appear with our annotations. If the annotation is authored by OHaraAdmin, it’s from us!

We chose to create our own domain for several reasons: first, we wanted a space of our own–a site dedicated uniquely to O’Hara and tooled for the purposes of decoding his poetry, rather than a general site like Genius that would be shared with others.

Second, we wanted to create a footnote experience that would allow readers to view as much or as little information as desired.

Our Approach

As O’Hara’s critics have noted, O’Hara is both a personal and impersonal poet. Heavily footnoting his work seems to either turn him into an impersonal poet who is academic and “beyond us” or expose the coterie elements he seems to be trying to hid. However, sometimes a footnote would help us to better understand O’Hara’s life and artistic milieu. So we’re offering that choice.

Our hope is that this project straddles the line between scholarship and pedagogy, sharing information in a way that is both academically informative and as pleasurable to the everyday person as poetry ought to be.

Header image © Wikimedia.org


Disclaimer: This site was created for educational purposes only. Please contact Erin at erpiemont@davidson.edu with any objections to our use of material.