Also a Poet: Frank O'Hara, My Father, and Me (Grove Press)
A staggering memoir from New York Times-bestselling author Ada Calhoun tracing her fraught relationship with her father and their shared obsession with a great poet
When Ada Calhoun stumbled upon old cassette tapes of interviews her father, celebrated art critic Peter Schjeldahl, had conducted for his never-completed biography of poet Frank O'Hara, she set out to finish the book her father had started forty years earlier.
As a lifelong O'Hara fan who grew up amid his bohemian cohort in the East Village, Calhoun thought the project would be easy, even fun, but the deeper she dove, the more she had to face not just O'Hara's past, but also her father's, and her own.
The result is a groundbreaking and kaleidoscopic memoir that weaves compelling literary history with a moving, honest, and tender story of a complicated father-daughter bond. Also a Poet explores what happens when we want to do better than our parents, yet fear what that might cost us; when we seek their approval, yet mistrust it.
In reckoning with her unique heritage, as well as providing new insights into the life of one of our most important poets, Calhoun offers a brave and hopeful meditation on parents and children, artistic ambition, and the complexities of what we leave behind.
Ada Calhoun is the author of St. Marks Is Dead, Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give, and Why We Can’t Sleep. She has written for the New York Times, the New Republic, and the Washington Post.
Nicola Twilley is co-host of the award-winning Gastropod podcast, which looks at food through the lens of history and science, and which is part of the Vox Media Podcast Network in partnership with Eater. Her first book, “Until Proven Safe: The History and Future of Quarantine,” was co-authored with Geoff Manaugh and was named one of the best book of 2021 by Time Magazine, NPR, the Guardian, and the Financial Times. She is currently writing a book on the topic of refrigeration for Penguin Press. She is also a frequent contributor to The New Yorker.