Top positive review
31 people found this helpful
You will refuse to loan this book even to your best friend.
on June 30, 1998
Tony Hoagland's poems are accessible. There is nothing arcane to decipher unwillingly, no unnatural stretch for depth. The depth is there already. This is the poetry that I grew to love, when I first began reading contemporary poets back in the 70's. Robert Pinsky, Alan Dugan, Robert Bly, A.R.Ammons and others were on my shelf long before Tony Hoagland had published. And I think Hoagland's poems owe something to those writers. But his take on the art is his own and it is by far the more colloquial. The image is instant, the emotion is shared completely, the words make tangible record in the reader's mind. And the effect often is startling. My favorite poem in the book is called 'Safeway.' I read this poem in an issue of Ploughshares some years ago and thought it so wonderful that I subscribed to that pushcart, only later to find that not all its material affects me as that one poem does and always will. When I purchased 'Sweet Ruin' I expected to find at least a few poems not to my liking. But mirabile dictu! Every poem is as striking and enjoyable as 'Safeway.' Polished without seeming to have been, sounding as though they were written on bar napkins and never revised, glib and facile and beautifully inspired, 'Sweet Ruin' is one of those books you will reread ad infinitum, never knowing when you're finished.