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About Tony Hoagland
TONY HOAGLAND (1953-2018) was the award-winning author of seven books of poetry, including Priest Turned Therapist Treats Fear of God; What Narcissism Means to Me, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Donkey Gospel, winner of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets. He was also the author of four books about poetry, including The Art of Voice: Poetic Principles and Practice, and Twenty Poems That Could Save American and Other Essays. He has received the Mark Twain Award from the Poetry Foundation, the Jackson Poetry Prize, and the O.B. Hardison Jr. Prize for excellence in teaching.
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The final book of poems by Tony Hoagland, “one of the most distinctive voices of our time” (Carl Dennis).
Over the course of his celebrated career, Tony Hoagland ventured fearlessly into the unlit alleys of emotion and experience. The poems in Turn Up the Ocean examine with an unflinching eye and mordant humor the reality of living and dying in a time and culture that conspire to erase our inner lives. Hoagland’s signature wit and unparalleled observations take in long-standing injustices, the atrocities of American empire and consumerism, and our ongoing habit of looking away. In these poems, perseverance depends on a gymnastics of skepticism and comedy, a dogged quest for authentic connection, and the consolations of the natural world. Turn Up the Ocean is a remarkable and moving collection, a fitting testament to Hoagland’s devotion to the capaciousness and art of poetry.
An award-winning poet, teacher, and “champion of poetry” (Neil Genzlinger, New York Times) demystifies the elusive element of voice.
In this accessible and distilled craft guide, acclaimed poet Tony Hoagland approaches poetry through the frame of poetic voice, that mysterious connective element that binds the speaker and reader together. In short, essayistic chapters and an appendix of thirty stimulating exercises, The Art of Voice explores the myriad ways to create a distinctive poetic voice, including vernacular, authoritative statement, speech register, tone-shifting, and using secondary voices. “Rich with lively examples” (New York Times Book Review), The Art of Voice provides a compelling introduction to contemporary poetry and an invaluable guide for any practicing writer.
“Hoagland’s verse is consistently, and crucially, bloodied by a sense of menace and by straight talk.” —The New York Times
My heroes are the ones who don’t say much.
They don’t hug people they just met.
They don’t play louder when confused.
They use plain language even when they listen.
Wisdom doesn’t come to every Californian.
Chances are I too
will die with difficulty in the dark.
If you want to see a lost civilizaton,
why not look in the mirror?
If you want to talk about love, why not begin
with those marigolds you forgot to water?
—from “Real Estate”
Tony Hoagland’s poems interrogate human nature and contemporary culture with an intimate and wild urgency, located somewhere between outrage, stand-up comedy, and grief. His new poems are no less observant of the human and the worldly, no less skeptical, and no less amusing, but they have drifted toward the greater depths of open emotion. Over six collections, Hoagland’s poetry has gotten bigger, more tender, and more encompassing. The poems in Priest Turned Therapist Treats Fear of God turn his clear-eyed vision toward the hidden spaces—and spaciousness—in the human predicament.
A fearless, wide-ranging book on the state of poetry and American literary culture by Tony Hoagland, the author of What Narcissism Means to Me
Live American poetry is absent from our public schools. The teaching of poetry languishes, and that region of youthful neurological terrain capable of being ignited only by poetry is largely dark, unpopulated, and silent, like a classroom whose shades are drawn. This is more than a shame, for poetry is our common treasure-house, and we need its vitality, its respect for the subconscious, its willingness to entertain ambiguity, its plaintive truth-telling, and its imaginative exhibitions of linguistic freedom, which confront the general culture's more grotesque manipulations. We need the emotional training sessions poetry conducts us through. We need its previews of coming attractions: heartbreak, survival, failure, endurance, understanding, more heartbreak.
—from "Twenty Poems That Could Save America"
Twenty Poems That Could Save America presents insightful essays on the craft of poetry and a bold conversation about the role of poetry in contemporary culture. Essays on the "vertigo" effects of new poetry give way to appraisals of Robert Bly, Sharon Olds, and Dean Young. At the heart of this book is an honesty and curiosity about the ways poetry can influence America at both the private and public levels. Tony Hoagland is already one of this country's most provocative poets, and this book confirms his role as a restless and perceptive literary and cultural critic.
The eagerly awaited, brilliant, and engaging new poems by Tony Hoagland, author of What Narcissism Means to Me
The parade for the slain police officer
goes past the bakery
and the smell of fresh bread
makes the mourners salivate against their will.
—from "Note to Reality"
Are we corrupt or innocent, fragmented or whole? Are responsibility and freedom irreconcilable? Do we value memory or succumb to our forgetfulness? Application for Release from the Dream, Tony Hoagland's fifth collection of poems, pursues these questions with the hobnailed abandon of one who needs to know how a citizen of twenty-first-century America can stay human. With whiplash nerve and tender curiosity, Hoagland both surveys the damage and finds the wonder that makes living worthwhile. Mirthful, fearless, and precise, these poems are full of judgment and mercy.
Walking the Dog's Shadow rose to the top of nearly eight hundred submissions to win the ninth annual A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. Tony Hoagland, who served as final judge for the contest, writes, "Deborah Brown's poems remind me a little of the great Polish poet, Wistawa Szymborska. They both make thinking look easy. . . . Brown's poems aren't just about a eureka moment; they taste of the whole journey. Walking the Dog's Shadow is a beautiful book, wise and sure of itself, fresh with wit and gravity, serious and true."
Deborah Brown teaches literature and writing at the University of New Hampshire-Manchester.