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What Narcissism Means to Me: Poems by Tony…

What Narcissism Means to Me: Poems

by Tony Hoagland

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I love, love, love these poems. That's my review, so sue me, but don't dare flag this as "not a review." ( )
  labwriter | Feb 9, 2012 |
Several years ago I first read Tony Hoagland's Sweet Ruin as an undergraduate with poetic pretensions. That collection meant a great deal to me then, as did Donkey Gospel shortly thereafter. In the years since I've grown very tired of most contemporary poetry, which just seems to rehash the same navel-gazing material over and over and over again. The tone, the dogged interiority, you can just smell the cigarettes and bad coffee.

With a title like this one, you might think more of the same awaits. Not so. This book is by far the most developed of Hoagland's collections; his voice is more dynamic, more layered. A friend of mine used the word "shrewd," and I think that's a good choice. He has a sense of humor that reminds me in a way of Alfred Hitchcock's--dry, wry, precise. It's rare poets have a sense of humor about themselves or the world we're living in, and this quality of Hoagland's work is for me the most refreshing. He also has a way of handling life's quotidian simplicities without the usual self-important righteousness; he is very low-brow, and very unafraid. There's also an admirable humanity to Hoagland, in that his edginess doesn't mean he's unapproachable. A rare quality indeed.

Also the first book of poetry in a long time I was able to sit down and simply read straight through. Its four sections move along in an almost novelistic way. Highly recommended. ( )
3 vote DawnFinley | Jul 1, 2006 |
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