Don’t Miss One of America’s Best Poets

0 Commentsby   |  03.20.10  |  Announcements


Tonight: Tony Hoagland At McMurry

Award-winning poet and University of Houston prof Tony Hoagland will be on the campus of McMurry U. this Thursday and Friday, March 25-26.

Take our word for it. This guy is good. [See sample poem below]

Hoagland’s books of poetry are consistently personal and satirical, digging deep into the underbelly of the contemporary American dream. Defying expectations of what is “polite” enough to be poetry, Hoagland is to American poetry what a great Indie band is to the cookie cutter streaming of mainstream pop. This is a witty poet with an ironic edge, the sort of man who would entitle his third volume of poems What Narcissism Means to Me and write poems such as “Fred Had Watched a Lot of Kung Fu Episodes,” “Poem in Which I Make the Mistake of Comparing Billie Holiday to a Cosmic Washerwoman,” and “Hate Hotel.”

So what’s not to like? Head over to McMurry for the following free events:

Thurs., March 25 3 p.m. – Discussion on the craft of writing poetry (Garrison Campus Center Chapel)

Thurs., March 25 7:30 p.m. – Poetry Reading (Ryan Recital Hall: in Fine Arts Center fronting Sayles on south side of campus)

Friday, March 26 9 a.m. – Lecture: “Clown and Scalpel: The Poem as Social Critique” (Ryan Fine Arts Foyer)

Critics Say…

“It’s hard to imagine any aspect of contemporary American life that couldn’t make its way into the writing of Tony Hoagland or a word in common or formal usage he would shy away from. He is a poet of risk: he risks wild laughter in poems that are totally heartfelt, poems you want to read out loud to anyone who needs to know the score and even more so to those who think they know the score. The framework of his writing is immense, almost as large as the tarnished nation he wandered into under the star of poetry.” —Jackson Prize Citation

Sample Poem

A Color of the Sky

by Tony Hoagland

Windy today and I feel less than brilliant,
driving over the hills from work.
There are the dark parts on the road
when you pass through clumps of wood
and the bright spots where you have a view of the ocean,
but that doesn’t make the road an allegory.
I should call Marie and apologize
for being so boring at dinner last night,
but can I really promise not to be that way again?
And anyway, I’d rather watch the trees, tossing
in what certainly looks like sexual arousal.
Otherwise it’s spring, and everything looks frail;
the sky is baby blue, and the just-unfurling leaves
are full of infant chlorophyll,
the very tint of inexperience.
Last summer’s song is making a comeback on the radio,
and on the highway overpass,
the only metaphysical vandal in America has written
in big black spraypaint letters,
which makes us wonder if Time loves Memory back.
Last night I dreamed of X again.
She’s like a stain on my subconscious sheets.
Years ago she penetrated me
but though I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed,
I never got her out,
but now I’m glad.
What I thought was an end turned out to be a middle.
What I thought was a brick wall turned out to be a tunnel.
What I thought was an injustice
turned out to be a color of the sky.
Outside the youth center, between the liquor store
and the police station,
a little dogwood tree is losing its mind;
overflowing with blossomfoam,
like a sudsy mug of beer;
like a bride ripping off her clothes,
dropping snow white petals to the ground in clouds,
so Nature’s wastefulness seems quietly obscene.
It’s been doing that all week:
making beauty,
and throwing it away,
and making more.

Tony Hoagland, “A Color of the Sky” from What Narcissism Means to Me. Copyright © 2003 by Tony Hoagland. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota,

Add a Comment