Biography of Tony Hoagland
He was born in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. His father was an Army doctor, and Hoagland grew up on various military bases throughout the South. He was educated at Williams College, the University of Iowa (B.A.), and the University of Arizona (M.F.A.). According to the novelist Don Lee, Hoagland "attended and dropped out of several colleges, picked apples and cherries in the Northwest, lived in communes, [and] followed the Grateful Dead . . ." He currently teaches in the University of Houston creative writing program. He is also on the faculty of the Warren Wilson low-residency MFA program.
In an interview with Miriam Sagan about his poetic influences, Hoagland said, "if I were going to place myself on some aesthetic graph, my dot would be equidistant between Sharon Olds and Frank O’Hara, between the confessional (where I started) and the social (where I have aimed myself). In a 2002 citation regarding Hoagland's Academy Award in Literature, The American Academy of Arts and Letters said that "Hoagland's imagination ranges thrillingly across manners, morals, sexual doings, and kinds of speech lyrical and candid, intimate as well as wild."
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Tony Hoagland Poems
If you are lucky in this life, you will get to help your enemy the way I got to help my mother when she was weakened past the point of saying no.
Maxine, back from a weekend with her boyfriend, smiles like a big cat and says that she's a conjugated verb. She's been doing the direct object
Sometimes I wish I were still out on the back porch, drinking jet fuel with the boys, getting louder and louder as the empty cans drop out of our paws
The season turned like the page of a glossy fashion magazine. In the park the daffodils came up and in the parking lot, the new car models were on parade.
Then one of the students with blue hair and a tongue stud Says that America is for him a maximum-security prison
I Have News For You
There are people who do not see a broken playground swing as a symbol of ruined childhood and there are people who don't interpret the behavior of a fly in a motel room as a mocking representation of their thought process.
Reasons to Survive November
November like a train wreck - as if a locomotive made of cold had hurtled out of Canada and crashed into a million trees,
A Color of the Sky
Windy today and I feel less than brilliant, driving over the hills from work. There are the dark parts on the road
DON'T TELL ANYONE
We had been married for six or seven years when my wife, standing in the kitchen one afternoon, told me that she screams underwater when she swims— that, in fact, she has been screaming for years into the blue chlorinated water of the community pool where she does laps every other day. Buttering her toast, not as if she had been concealing anything, not as if I should consider myself personally the cause of her screaming, nor as if we should perform an act of therapy right that minute on the kitchen table, —casually, she told me, and I could see her turn her square face up to take a gulp of oxygen, then down again into the cold wet mask of the unconscious. For all I know, maybe everyone is screaming as they go through life, silently, politely keeping the big secret that it is not all fun to be ripped by the crooked beak of something called psychology, to be dipped down again and again into time; that the truest, most intimate pleasure you can sometimes find is the wet kiss of your own pain. There goes Kath, at one PM, to swim her twenty-two laps back and forth in the community pool; —what discipline she has! Twenty-two laps like twenty-two pages, that will never be read by anyone.
She goes out to hang the windchime in her nightie and her work boots. It's six-thirty in the morning and she's standing on the plastic ice chest tiptoe to reach the crossbeam of the porch, windchime in her left hand, hammer in her right, the nail gripped tight between her teeth but nothing happens next because she's trying to figure out how to switch #1 with #3. She must have been standing in the kitchen, coffee in her hand, asleep, when she heard it—the wind blowing through the sound the windchime wasn't making because it wasn't there. No one, including me, especially anymore believes till death do us part, but I can see what I would miss in leaving— the way her ankles go into the work boots as she stands upon the ice chest; the problem scrunched into her forehead; the little kissable mouth with the nail in it.
Don't take it personal, they said; but I did, I took it all quite personal— the breeze and the river and the color of the fields; the price of grapefruit and stamps, the wet hair of women in the rain— And I cursed what hurt me and I praised what gave me joy, the most simple-minded of possible responses. The government reminded me of my father, with its deafness and its laws, and the weather reminded me of my mom, with her tropical squalls. Enjoy it while you can, they said of Happiness Think first, they said of Talk Get over it, they said at the School of Broken Hearts but I couldn't and I didn't and I don't believe in the clean break; I believe in the compound fracture served with a sauce of dirty regret, I believe in saying it all and taking it all back and saying it again for good measure while the air fills up with I'm-Sorries like wheeling birds and the trees look seasick in the wind. Oh life! Can you blame me for making a scene? You were that yellow caboose, the moon disappearing over a ridge of cloud. I was the dog, chained in some fool's backyard; barking and barking: trying to convince everything else to take it personal too.
Note to Reality
Without even knowing it, I have believed in you for a long time.
I was feeling pretty religious standing on the bridge in my winter coat looking down at the gray water:
Special Problems in Vocabulary
There is no single particular noun for the way a friendship, stretched over time, grows thin,
Then one of the students with blue hair and a tongue stud
Says that America is for him a maximum-security prison
Whose walls are made of RadioShacks and Burger Kings, and MTV episodes
Where you can't tell the show from the commercials,
And as I consider how to express how full of shit I think he is,
He says that even when he's driving to the mall in his Isuzu