Tony Hoagland’s zany poems poke and provoke at the same time as they entertain and delight. He was American poetry’s hilarious ‘high priest of irony’, a wisecracker and a risktaker whose disarming humour, self-scathing and tenderness are all fuelled by an aggressive moral intelligence. He pushes the poem not just to its limits but over the edge.
His first UK book of poems is a selection drawing on three collections, Sweet Ruin (1992), Donkey Gospel (1998) and What Narcissism Means to Me (2003). He published three later collections, Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty (2010), Application for Release from the Dream (2015) and Priest Turned Therapist Treats Fear of God, published posthumously in the UK by Bloodaxe in 2019.
'He belongs to that wagon-circle of American poets who believe in a "common reader"…Hoagland is a poet of a ragged, half-satirical, half-lyrical intensity. If Billy Collins is Updike, Hoagland is Salinger, or perhaps Holden Caulfield…making us think we know the ground we are on, then showing us that we don’t…For me, he not only pulls the rug from under my feet when it comes to the moral complacencies and platitudes that I don’t notice I live by, he does the same with my given poetic certainties' – Henry Shukman, Poetry London
'Hilarious, searing poems that break your heart so fast you hardly notice you’re standing knee deep in a pool of implications. They are of this moment, right now – the present that we’re already homesick for' – Marie Howe
USA: Graywolf Press
Tony Hoagland on D.H. Lawrence, Britney Spears and being lucky or romantic
When Pamela Robertson-Pearce filmed Tony Hoagland in August 2008, he was still living near Wellfleet on Cape Cod, and had published his UK selected What Narcissism Means to Me with Bloodaxe. In this film he reads two poems from that book, ‘Lawrence’ and ‘Benevolence’, and two poems from the manuscript which later became Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty, ‘Romantic Moment’ and ‘Poor Britney Spears’. This film is from the DVD-anthology In Person: World Poets, filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce & edited by Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, 2008).
Tony Hoagland live at Ledbury Poetry Festival
Tony Hoagland reads and introduces a selection of his poems from all his books at Ledbury Poetry Festival in July 2017, where he shared a stage with Thomas Lynch.
Tony Hoagland: The American Poetic Voice
What is most distinctive about the American poetic voice? It may be its democratic vernacular, its elasticity, its plainness of style, its life-giving vulgarity, its pragmatism, its materialism, its self-regard, or its humour. All of these features are embedded in that mysterious element we call Voice, that rhythmic undulating metabolism which transports and delivers whatever "information" a poem contains. In this talk, given at Ledbury Poetry Festival on 3 July 2017, Tony Hoagland uses examples to analyse, admire and illustrate some of the specific secrets of the American voice, providing a means for considering the craft of any poetic voice. His examples include poems by Frank O'Hara, Ezra Pound, Louise Glück, Adrian Blevins and Genevieve Taggard.