America’s Tony Hoagland was known for provocative poems which interrogate human nature and contemporary culture with an intimate and wild urgency, located somewhere between outrage, stand-up comedy, and grief. The poems in his final collection Turn Up the Ocean examine with an unflinching eye and mordant humour the reality of living and dying in a time and culture that conspire to erase our inner lives.
Castaway poet Suzannah Evans chose ‘Gorgon’ by the late Tony Hoagland from his final collection Turn Up the Ocean as one of her three poems to take to a desert island. She chose it for this feature in The Friday Poem for its ‘empathy, bravery and hope’. The poem was reproduced in full.
‘The poem’s message is an urgent one, and to me it feels galvanising, emboldening. It’s very difficult to go on looking at the world at the moment, as the planet melts and those in charge fail, yet again, to apply the measures they could. But if we can remain empathetic as things get darker, then perhaps that is enough. Perhaps there is a shred of hope in that.’ – Suzannah Evans, on Tony Hoagland’s poem ‘Gorgon’
‘Among so much that is bland, conformist or impregnably academic, there is something bracing about his disobliging wit. His last poems, which have been gathered in Turn Up the Ocean, are typically wry: “When my doctor asks what my symptoms are, I tell her/self-pity and the desire to apologise.”… readers should be inspired to seek out more from this unique American voice.’ – Graeme Richardson, The Sunday Times (Notable new poetry books of 2022)
Thomas Lynch, André Naffis-Sahely, Anne Rouse celebrated the publication of their new poetry collections and remembered Tony Hoagland at this online launch reading on 21st June 2022. They read their poetry and discussed their new collections with the host, Bloodaxe editor Neil Astley.
They paid tribute to Tony Hoagland, whose final collection Turn Up the Ocean was also published by Bloodaxe in June 2022.