This past Wednesday, the Poetry Project, a New York City-based organization dedicated to promoting, fostering, and inspiring the reading and writing of contemporary poetry, hosted a reading—in its entirety—of Frank O’Hara’s iconic, celebrated, and now fifty-year-old Lunch Poems. With the crowd filling the main sanctuary (the headquarters of the Poetry Project are appropriately located in a church), performers such as Edmund Berrigan and The New Yorker’s Peter Schjeldahl each got up and read a single poem to the room’s rapt attention. Greg Ruggiero (editor of the City Lights Open Media series) was there to document it. Here he is in his own words:
There was an enormous buzz in the room before it started. The organizers were angels and their sense of excitement and joy really helped set a welcoming vibe. Once the reading began it seemed that a perfect silence was held without interruption for two hours. Not one cell phone broke the spell. The room was so focused, I was concerned that even the muffled sound of my Nikon flashlessly clicking was going to be a drag. The book itself looks and feels beautiful—everywhere you looked its orange cover winked back at you.
For all of us unlucky enough not to have been there, Greg took a lot of pictures, which are posted below. And the beautiful orange-covered anniversary edition of Lunch Poems is now available for purchase from City Lights as of yesterday.
As an added bonus, here is O’Hara reading “Having a Coke with You” himself:
The Paris Review recently released some of these letters and covered the book as well.
For more events related to Lunch Poems, visit our author tour page here.