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The New York Poets represented here – Frank O’ Hara, John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch and James Schulyer – took 50s New York into the brave new postwar world with casual insouciance, mingling with abstract expressionists (Pollock et al) while breaking down and refreshing the poetic conventions of the pre-war period. Foremost among them is the great Frank O’ Hara, whose tragically early death beneath the wheels of dune buggy only served to heighten his mystique. Freewheeling city rambles inevitably take place during lunch, the most important hour of the day: ‘It’s my lunch hour, so I go/for a walk among the/hum-colored/cabs.’

Carcanet/paperback/£14.95/9781857547344

Dan Eltringham

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