Poetry Month 2016: Heather McHugh
After Su Tung P’o On the birth of a son When a child is born, the parents say they hope it’s healthy and intelligent. But as for me— well, vigor and intelligence have wrecked my life. I pray this baby we are seeing walloped, wiped and winningly anointed, turns out dumb as oakum—and more sinister. That way he can crown a tranquil life by being appointed a cabinet minister. [From Eyeshot] ~ From the publisher’s Web site: Heather McHugh’s new book, Eyeshot, is a brooding, visionary work that takes aim at the big questions—those of love and death. The poems suggest that such immensities balance on the smallest details, and that a range of human blindness is inescapable. The power of this new work comes from its delicate yet tenacious fidelity to the ever-unfolding senses of sense. The poems invite the reader to follow careening words and insights through passages both playful and profound. Her “Fido, Jolted by Jove” reveals the tension endemic to both language and living: “the world itself is worried.” Yet the same poem remarks the high price of any reductive fix: “a brain this insecure may need another bolt be driven in it.” This movement between anxiety and the human compulsion for order informs Eyeshot’s darkly comic, 20/20 acuity. From the MacArthur Foundation Web site: Heather McHugh received a B.A. (1970) from Harvard University and an M.A. (1972) from the University of Denver. Her additional books of poetry include A World of Difference (1981), Hinge and Sign: Poems, 1968-1993 (1994), The Father of the Predicaments (2001), and Upgraded to Serious (2009), among others. From 1999 to 2006, she was Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and she has served as a visiting faculty member at the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers since its inception in 1976. She is currently Milliman Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Washington in Seattle, a post she has held since 1984.