Richard Hugo’s Poetry

I just finished reading through Richard Hugo’s Selected Poems, and the collection is an excellent one. I love the sense of place in Hugo’s poems, whether he is out in nature fishing, or sitting in a small town cafe, or writing about his travels in Italy, or describing his life in Montana. In “Letter to Kizer from Seattle” he writes about “the primal source of poems: wind, sea / and rain,” and while as a city person I am not especially enamored of nature, I appreciate the way Hugo speaks about it in his poems because it is always a specific place rather than a general force. I can always visualize the nature in his poems, unlike its depiction in the work of other nature poets such as Galway Kinnell or Mary Oliver. I like many poems in the collection because they evoke place so well, even when they are about other subjects. For instance, “Letter to Kathy from Wisdom” is a love poem, but it is inspired by “this town I’m writing from, where we came lovers years ago to fish.” “Kennedy Ucciso” is about John F. Kennedy’s assassination on the surface, but really it is about being an American who feels like an outsider in Italy. Hugo’s poems pay homage to their settings, showing that geography can be just as important in poetry as it is in fiction.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: