Tony Hoagland was born in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 1953, the son of an army doctor, and grew up on various military bases. Following an itinerant period when he attended various schools, travelled as a harvest worker and tried out alternative lifestyles, he studied at the University of Iowa and gained a master’s degree in creative writing at the University of Arizona.
Hoagland’s work is characterized by a blend of humour and seriousness, a playfulness with colloquial speech and an interest in American social realities. In 1992 he published his first volume of poetry, “Sweet Ruin” which won the Zacharis Award and the Brittingham Prize. The critic Steven Cramer ap pr aised Hoagland’s work as: “muscular, conversational lines [that] s pr int from narrative passages to metaphorical clusters to speculative meditations, and then loop back, fast-talking and digressing their way into the book’s richly American interior.”
Following “Donkey Gospel” (1998), honoured with the James Laughlin Award, Hoagland’s poetry moved from an introspective narrative style towards more descriptive, nonlinear forms of re pr esentation. Hoagland also devoted himself to the pr oblematics of perspective in his essay on poetics entitled “Self-Consciousness”, in the collection “Real Sofistakashun” (2006). This theme is also signaled in the title of the collection of poems “What Narcissism Means to Me” (2003), albeit ironically. The sharp wit with which he portrays his native land persists in these poems, as well as in the recent chapbook “Hard Rain”, published in 2005.
That same year Hoagland was awarded the Mark Twain Award “in recognition of his contribution to humor in American poetry”. His additional distinctions include a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, and the O.B. Hardisson Prize for Poetry and Teaching. Hoagland’s work has appeared widely, and often anthologized. He currently teaches at the University of Houston.
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