Reading Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems was a lucky coincidence. The book was a gift. I had been looking for a proper book of poetry to bring with me. Poetry is a necessity when you travel. You can pick it up, open it a random point, at the beginning, at a point, not random, but chosen because it has relevant meaning to what you have encountered.

My original thought had been to bring Whitman, but most editions are too big to be easily carried about.

But there was something of Whitman in Leaves of Grass. The pleasure in humanity as a mass. The aspects of the flaneur. Yes, the homoeroticism. Nothing in Lunch Poems resembles Whitman’s aching Civil War songs and laments, but, then again, what does? A reminder of Whitman’s power and influence over even the best poetry that followed. Or, perhaps, especially over the best poetry that followed.

Frank O'Hara: 'Lunch Poems'

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