This article in the Houston Chronicle caught my attention because of the local flavor and I became curious about the poet. I admit poetry is not my preferred genre in the world of words but still. I decided to check out his work after reading this reason the judges gave for making Hoagland the winner : "The judges praised Hoagland as "a poet of risk: He risks wild laughter in poems that are totally heartfelt, poems you want to read out loud to anyone who needs to know the score and even more to those who think they know the score." Ah, I thought. A smart ass. My kind of guy.
The 54 year old poet was surprised and pleased by the recognition. His work is described as "freighted with humor and satire." "My poetry is so combative, it's not especially pretty, it's provoking, and its manners are rough," he said. "I take this to be encouragement to offend more people than ever," he said, laughing. "They'll be sorry."
"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....When people's bodies relax, it's actually easier to find access to them intellectually, too." Well said.
The Houston Chronicle is running a daily poem for National Poetry Month. Here's today's, written by Tony Hoagland:
People Magazine Poem
In this scene Angelina Jolie is wearing
a skimpy barbarian leotard
and throwing a pillow across the room
at the head of Brad Pitt,
who is laughing for the camera.
He is sweaty, shirtless, and tanned
in Gucci toreador pants, and he is looking down at his phone
which is this very minute showing simultaneous calls
from Sean Penn and Meryl Streep.
These celebrities have come together
to rescue poetry - not just this poem
no, but great poetry, all kinds, a lot of it,
and their glamorous shenanigans
are not by any means complete
because now they are getting on board a private jet
to join their friend Nelson Mandela,
who is wearing a Free Gertrude Stein t-shirt.
High over the Atlantic, they are reading poems out loud
by E.E. Cummings and Marianne Moore,
they are doing sonnets like designer drugs
they are really digging the poetry
of Sharon Olds and D.A. Powell -
its hipness, its sensuality, its Zen gestalt.
Your strange unslakable thirst to enter their boudoir
has led you surprisingly here,
where Britney Spears and George Clooney are about to give
a two-part stereophonic reading
of Flow Chart, by John Ashbery.
And now they are starting to weep;
as if they had found an old wound
which had held them enthralled
until it was touched and unlocked by feeling,
until they saw the face of the poem
looking up from the page
into their face with recognition.
Such is the power of poetry,
which you should remember more often -
perhaps by going shopping,
in a life much like your own,
for some of the special products
brought to you by our sponsors,
Truth, Justice and Beauty.
- Tony Hoagland