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Richard Hugo, whom Carolyn Kizer has called" one of the most passionate, energetic, and honest poets living," here offers an extraordinary collection of new poems, each one a "letter" or a "dream." Both letters and dreams are special manifestations of alone-ness; Hugo's special senses of alone-ness, of places, and of other people are the forces behind his distinctively American and increasingly authoritative poetic voice. Each letter is written from a specific place that Hugo has made his own (a "triggering town," as he has called it elsewhere) to a friend, a fellow poet, an old love. We read over the poet's shoulder as the town triggers the imagination, the friendship is re-opened, the poet's selfhood is explored and illuminated. The "dreams" turn up unexpectedly (as dreams do) among the letters; their haunting images give further depth to the poet's exploration. Are we overhearing them? Who is the "you" that dreams?
The collection includes "Montgomery Hollow," the title poem, and the famous, "Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg," in which he turns to the reader, midway through his description of a dying town, and says, "Isn't this your life? That ancient kiss/ still burning out your eyes? Isn't this defeat/ so accurate, the church bell simply seems/ a pure announcement: ring and no one comes?" His 1973 book, The Lady in Kicking Horse Reservoir, is both about Montana and not about Montana. Of his method, Hugo once said: "Usually I find a poem is triggered by something, a small town or abandoned house, that I feel others would ignore." The poems in The Lady in Kicking House Reservoir are tied to place and landscape, but Hugo's real subject matter remains elusive. From the book jacket: Richard Hugo (1923-1982) was born and raised in White Center, Washington. He flew thirty-three missions in Europe as a bombardier in World War II, receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross. He returned to Seattle to study with Theodore Roethke at the Writing Program. Nominated for the National Book Award. From 1977 to the end of his life, Hugo served as the judge of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition. Upon publication of The Lady in Kicking Horse Reservoir in 1973, Richard Howard wrote, "Richard Hugo's concern is the unenviable, the unvisited, even the uninviting, which he must invest with his own deprivation, his own private war.... Each poem adds its incisive particulars to the general stoic wreck; but what startles, then reassures in all this canon of the inconsolable, the unsanctified, the dispossessed, is Hugo's poetics, the analogy of language to experience. . . . Richard Hugo is such an important poet because the difficulties inherent in his art provide him a means of saying what he has to say. It is no accident that he must develop a negative in order to produce a true image."
"Richard Hugo's concern is the unenviable, the unvisited, even the uninviting, which he must invest with his own deprivations, his own private war. The distinctiveness of impulse int he language, the movement organized in single syllables by the craving mind, this credible richness is related to, is even derived from, the poverty of the places, local emanations, free (or freed) to be the poet's own." --Richard Howard "Richard Hugo is such an important poet because the difficulties inherent in his art provide him a means of saying what he has to say. It is no accident that he must develop a negative in order to produce a true image." --Richard Howard
The definitive collection of a major American poet's work. Richard Hugo was, in James Wright's words, "a great poet, true to our difficult life." Making Certain It Goes On brings together, as Hugo wished, the poems published in book form during his lifetime, together with the new poems he wrote in his last years.
Richard Hugo was a major American poet, an influential and inspiring teacher, and a master of the personal essay. Many of these essays have now been assembled and arranged by Ripley Hugo, the poet's widow and a writer and teacher, and by Lois and James Welch, writers and close friends of the poet. Together the essays constitute a compelling autobiographical narrative that takes the poet from his lonely childhood, through the war years and his working and creative life, to an interview just before his untimely death in 1982. The introduction is by William Matthews, also a friend of Hugo's. Richard Hugo, author of eight volumes of poetry, directed the University of Montana's creative-writing program and edited the Yale Younger Poets Series. Making Certain It Goes On: The Collected Poems was published in 1984. Ripley Hugo lives in Missoula, Montana, as do the Welches.
Of Richard Hugo's Making Certain It Goes On, David Wagoner has written: "Richard Hugo spared himself (and us) no pains or joys in making the wonderful, vigorous original poems brought together in this single collection. His was and is a very important voice in modern American poetry." Hugo was also an editor of the Yale Younger Poets series and a distinguished teacher and master of the personal essay. Now many of his essays have been assembled and arranged by Ripley Hugo, the poet's widow and a writer and teacher, and Lois and James Welch, writers and close friends of the poet. Together the essays constitute a compelling autobiographical narrative that takes Hugo from his lonely childhood through the war years and his working and creative life to an interview just before his death in 1982. William Matthews, also a friend of Hugo's, has written an introduction.
In an essay on Richard Hugo, the poet James Wright called him "one of the precious few poets of our age . . . who has, and sustains, an abiding vision." Hugo took that vision to Skye with him: he makes Scottish history, legends, and "triggering towns" his own in these new poems, just as he has earlier done in poems of the American West. And in making them his own, he makes them our own as well. He continues to be, in Wright's words, "a great poet, true to our difficult life." In September of 1977 Richard Hugo and his family went to live for several months on the Isle of Skye, off the coast of Scotland. One of the results of that experience is this new and impressive volume of poems.
"Richard Hugo's free-swinging, go-for-it remarks on poetry and the teaching of poetry are exactly what are needed in classrooms and in the world."--James Dickey Richard Hugo was that rare phenomenon of American letters--a distinguished poet who was also an inspiring teacher. The Triggering Town is Hugo's now-classic collection of lectures, essays, and reflections, all "directed toward helping with that silly, absurd, maddening, futile, enormously rewarding activity: writing poems." Anyone, from the beginning poet to the mature writer to the lover of literature, will benefit greatly from Hugo's sayd, playful, profound insights and advice concerning the mysteries of literary creation.
Richard Hugo was that rare phenomenon of American letters -- a distinguished poet who was also an inspiring teacher. The Triggering Town is Hugo's now-classic collection of lectures, essays, and reflections, all "directed toward helping with that silly, absurd, maddening, futile, enormously rewarding activity: writing poems." Anyone, from the beginning poet to the mature writer to the lover of literature, will benefit greatly from Hugo's playful, profound insights and advice concerning the mysteries of literary creation.
Hugo's most important subject is the American West; as William Stafford said of The Lady in Kicking Horse Reservoir, "A part of the West belongs to Hugo. By telling over and over again its places and people he reclaims it from the very bleakness he confronts; and it all begins to loom as a great intense abode that we can't neglect, that we can't bear to let go." In the present volume, people, places, dreams, memories are explored again-always in search of the poet's self. Hugo for many years directed the creative writing program at the University of Montana. He died in 1982.
Here is a collection of poems by a writer whom the poet Carolyn Kizer calls "one of the most passionate, energetic, and honest poets living." Hugo's most important subject is the American West. In the present volume, people, places, dreams, and memories are explored again--always in search of the poet's self.
Richard Hugo has been described by Carolyn Kizer as "one of the most passionate, energetic, and honest poets now living." Nowhere has that passion, energy, and honesty been more evident than in ?White Center, his newest volume of poems. "That Richard Hugo's poetry creates in his readers an almost indistinguishable desire for more," writes the critic and poet Dave Smith, "is the mark of his ability to reach those deep pools in us where we wait for passionate engagement. What Hugo gives us is the chance to begin again and a world where that beginning is ever possible." Here, for his ever-growing body of readers, are more of those opportunities.
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