As a poet and essayist, Tony Hoagland is a playful – but thoughtful – provocateur.
The titles he chose for his last two poetry collections? “Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty” and the deliciously droll “What Narcissism Means to Me.”
Poets can be funny. It’s true.
But protecting Hoagland’s funny bone requires intellectual muscle. Dexterity. Soul. And his new prose collection, “Twenty Poems That Could Save America and Other Essays,” brings these qualities to bear on the craft of contemporary poetry, on its shifting parts and changing wholes, and on its best and most imitated practitioners. For his grand finale, he makes an impassioned plea for a reboot of the American poetic canon with an updated stash of poems that would give citizens and students “a common vocabulary of stories, values, points of reference.”