PRINT March 2008

Lytle Shaw’s Frank O’Hara: The Poetics of Coterie

Barrett Watten

“The demands of poetry and painting, of expressivity and formalism, collided in his work and would come to no easy resolution,” wrote Barrett Watten of Frank O’Hara in Artforum’s March 2008 issue. O’Hara’s legacy is defined by dichotomies—of “high” and “low,” privacy and disclosure, contrivance and sincerity, celebration and elegy. Watten finds cause to let these contradictions lie in Lytle Shaw’s 2006 book, Frank O’Hara: The Poetics of the Coterie. “The disparity of intention and scale between O’Hara’s intimate poetry and his inescapable public presence . . . had the effect of positing the