Feature > Poetry
Tony Hoagland

Tony Hoagland

Tony Hoagland's most recent collection of poems, Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty, was published by Graywolf Press in February 2010. He is also the author of four other books of poetry, including What Narcissism Means to Me, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Donkey Gospel, winner of the James Laughlin Award. Graywolf also published his Real Sofistikashun: Essays on Poetry and Craft in 2006. He teaches in the graduate writing program at the University of Houston and in the Warren Wilson College low-residency M.F.A. Program.

Abstract Expressionism

Whenever I stop before a painting in a gallery,
and lean closer to study the splash and stroke of the paint—
it is never long until I see the same gray wooden boat

anchored in that harbor made of yellow light.
Scattered, patchy rags of sky are just barely visible
through big raw rectangles of  storm—yet all I have to do

is stand a few more minutes in front of the smeared greens
                                            and slashing greys
and a shoreline rises from that choppy haze,
like Atlantis rising from the sea—

If it is a playful painting, often a man is standing on the beach
in a rumpled business suit, as if he was an attorney
representing the tide;

If the painting is romantic in its sensibility,
it is a shapely Nordic queen,
kelp braided in her hair—
The boat, the sky, the barbarian queen,
the lawyer with his damp subpoena;
these are some of the reasons I love abstract art.

And then there is the dog,  
galloping along the shore—whose bark is barely audible
yet poignant in the surging wind;

the dog bounding down
into the surf, then back, the dog
who has missed his chance

to get on board the launch
that has already left,
the boat that had already departed

before the painting was even started,
steered by the heartless painter
and the implacable

demands of art.


Thomas Lux
Nullius in Verba


Molly Peacock
Speaking To You Of...


Poets in Person:
Gregory Orr