Taylor Mead reading O’Hara. Photo by Yony Leyser
By Yony Leyser & Josh Kurp
A large crowd gathered at St. Mark’s Church on November 29 to commemorate what would have been the 80th birthday of Frank O’Hara. A New York School poet often lumped with John Ashbery and Kenneth Koch, O'Hara died in a dune-buggy accident in 1966 on Fire Island, at age 40. At St. Marks, contemporary poets Anne Waldman, Taylor Mead and Bill Berkson read selections of O’Hara’s work including piece from his first book of poetry A City Winter and Other Poems, while adding their own stylistic interpretations to each piece. They also shared O'Hara stories before and after each poem, which gave personal background to this provocative poet. The event, which O'Hara family helped arrange, was the first of a two-part celebration, which continued the next day with a show at MoMA.