Author(s): Tony Hoagland
Are we corrupt or innocent, fragmented or whole? Are responsibility and freedom irreconcilable? Do we value memory or succumb to our forgetfulness? Application for Release from the Dream, Tony Hoagland's fifth collection of poems, pursues these questions with the fierce abandon of one who needs to know how a citizen of 21st-century America can stay human. With whiplash nerve and tender curiosity, Hoagland surveys the damage and finds the wonder that makes living worthwhile. Mirthful, fearless, and precise, these poems are full of judgment and mercy. Tony Hoagland's poems poke and provoke at the same time as they entertain and delight. He is American poetry's hilarious 'high priest of irony', a wisecracker and a risk-taker 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.
Tony Hoagland is visiting Britain in November 2015 to launch his latest book at Aldeburgh Poetry Festival followed by readings in London, Hull and Newcastle.
'Tony Hoagland is a provocateur, a brash interventionist, a deeply engaged Whitmanian poet and critic who poses, like the master, as "one of the roughs".' - Edward Hirsch; '[Hoagland] walks the line between the high poetic and the mass-media idiom... His poetry expresses itself not just as a significant art, but as the best kind of entertainment.' - Los Angeles Times; 'Few [poets] deliver more pure pleasure. [Hoagland's] erudite comic poems are backloaded with heartache and longing, and they function, emotionally, like improvised explosive devices.' - Dwight Garner, The New York Times; '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; 'Tony Hoagland's high zaniness always makes us laugh, but his real substance issues from the personal, aesthetic and moral risks he invokes in poem after poem... What Narcissism Means to Me shows us our age and how great poetry is still possible.' - Rodney Jones; 'A Late Night Show of poetry hosted by a high priest of irony (check out the title)... These poems are very funny, but they are also sad, sharp-edged and ambitious... confiding, consistently irreverent and, in a way, comforting.' - Carol Muske-Dukes, Los Angeles Times; 'Hoagland's central subject is the self, specifically, a prickly, grandiose American masculine poetic self, or to be more specific still, what the author ruefully labels in one poem "a government called Tony Hoagland"...there is something refreshing about his willingness to expose his crummier impulses.' - Emily Nussbaum, New York Times; 'It's hard to imagine any aspect of contemporary American life that couldn't make its way into the writing of Tony Hoagland or a word in common or formal usage he would shy away from. He is 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 so to those who think they know the score. The framework of his writing is immense, almost as large as the tarnished nation he wandered into under the star of poetry.' - Jackson Poetry Prize judges' citation
Tony Hoagland was born in 1953 in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. His father was an Army doctor, and Hoagland grew up on various military bases throughout the South. He teaches at the University of Houston and in the low-residency MFA program at Warren Wilson College. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His first UK book of poems, What Narcissism Means to Me: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2005), drew on three collections, Sweet Ruin (1992), Donkey Gospel (1998) and What Narcissism Means to Me (2003). He has since published two later collections, Unincorporated Persons in the Honda Dynasty (2010) and Application for Release from the Dream (2015), as well as Real Sofistikashun: Essays on Poetry and Craft (2006) and Twenty Poems That Could Save America and Other Essays (2014).