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.
From This Height
Cold wind comes out of the white hills and rubs itself against the walls of the condominium with an esophogeal vowel sound, and a loneliness creeps into the conversation by the hot tub. We don't deserve pleasure just as we don't deserve pain, but it's pure sorcery the way the feathers of warm mist keep rising from the surface of the water to wrap themselves around a sculpted clavicle or wrist. It's not just that we are on the eighth story of the world looking out through glass and steel with a clarity of vision in which imported coffee and a knowledge of French painting are combined, but that we are atop a pyramid of all the facts that make this possible: the furnace that heats the water, the truck that hauled the fuel, the artery of highway blasted through the mountains, the heart attack of the previous owner, the history of Western medicine that failed to save him, the successful development of tourism, the snow white lotions that counteract the chemistry of chlorine upon skin—our skin. Down inside history's body, the slaves are still singing in the dark; the roads continue to be built; the wind blows and the building grips itself in anticipation of the next strong gust. So an enormous act of forgetting is required simply to kiss someone or to open your mouth for the fork of high-calorie paté someone is raising to your lips, which, considering the price, it would be a sin not to enjoy.
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.
Then one of the students with blue hair and a tongue stud Says that America is for him a maximum-security prison
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 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.
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.
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,
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.
Sometimes I think that nothing really changes—
The young girls show the latest crop of tummies,
and the new president proves that he's a dummy.