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Don't tell anyone - Tony Hoagland

“I’m proud to be a funny poet…Humor in poetry is even better than beauty. If you could have it all, you would, but humor is better than beauty because it doesn’t put people to sleep. It wakes them up and relaxes them at the same time.”

Among contemporary poets, I find Tony Hoagland’s writing to be a revelation. It is difficult to put a finger on it, because his writing grows on you. One of its defining characteristics is the engagement with the everyday, with the stuff of routine. I like poets who turn ordinary things into miracles with their careful observation. It is this comradeship that makes his poetry special.

His poems could be uttered over a coffee table or a kitchen sink, almost like small talk, laced with a constant undercurrent of frivolity; not dismissive, but intelligent, and careful. Removing poetry from the pristine clutches of the sacred trappings of classical form, his narratives plunge the steely blade of insight into our unconscious. I love this feeling - this willingness to go into the depths of our darknesses, and our light, but to speak about love, sorrow, pain and vulnerability with the detachment of a philosopher. It is not easy to lay bare this nakedness, to talk about things with the conviction of universality, and the persuasiveness of epiphany; and to do it with a delicate touch, and a wry smile.






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