MoMA Celebrates Former Employee Frank O’Hara With ‘Modern Poets’ Series


The Museum of Modern Art is turning out to be quite the poetry patron these days. First, as part of its “Ecstatic Alphabets/Heaps of Language” exhibition, MoMA installed John Giorno’s 1969 piece, Dial-a-Poem, in which a telephone plays back recordings of poets reading from their work (it’s also available on their website). Now, the museum is celebrating its former employee, one of the great poets of the 20th century, Frank O’Hara, who worked as an assistant curator at MoMA’s department of painting and sculpture and wrote many canonical works during his lunch breaks.

As part of the museum’s “Modern Poets” series, MoMA has invited two New York poets to read from O’Hara’s so-called “Lunch Poems” and to give the audience advice on writing their own works. Stefania Heim will read on June 8, and Wayne Koestenbaum on June 15.

Here’s a Lunch Poem for you, “Lana Turner Has Collapsed.” It goes great with a turkey sandwich, by the way.

“Poem (Lana Turner Has Collapsed!)”

Lana Turner has collapsed!
I was trotting along and suddenly
it started raining and snowing
and you said it was hailing
but hailing hits you on the head
hard so it was really snowing and
raining and I was in such a hurry
to meet you but the traffic
was acting exactly like the sky
and suddenly I see a headline
there is no snow in Hollywood
there is no rain in California
I have been to lots of parties
and acted perfectly disgraceful
but I never actually collapsed
oh Lana Turner we love you get up

MoMA Celebrates Former Employee Frank O’Hara With ‘Modern Poets’ Series