February 5, 2010

a poet of malls and semi-lighted highways

"Hoagland is a poet of malls and semi-lighted highways and CNN feeds, more suburban than rural or urban. An awareness of the natural world hovers around the margins of his work, but don’t look to him for rolling lists of place names or ecological elegies. In one poem a bird has 'a cry like a cell phone,' and a creek trickles 'from dependent clause to interrogative.'

Elsewhere, 'tipsy drivers swerve/under the breathalyzer moon.' Smelling a woman’s perfume, he can’t help thinking of 'the destruction of a hundred flowers.' And not knowing what to do on a date, he thinks: 'If I were a bull penguin right now I would lean over/and vomit softly into the mouth of my beloved.'"

dwight garner on tony hoagland (Fort Bragg, NC, 1953), excerpt from ‘The Free Verse Is in Aisle 3’, published in Books of the Times, The New York Times, February 4, 2010

Further reading:

Tony Hoagland at The Poetry Foundation

Negative Capability: How to Talk Mean and Influence People (Poetry Daily) and Self-consciousness (nidus), essays by Tony Hoagland