Tony Hoagland

Award-winning Poet & Teacher


"Tony Hoagland's imagination ranges thrillingly across manners, morals, sexual doings, kinds of speech both lyrical and candid, intimate as well as wild." — American Academy of Arts and Letters


“[O]ne of the smarter, and funnier, poets of his generation, well balanced between absurdity and confession.” —Publishers Weekly


"[Hoagland's poems] grapple with selfhood and manhood, but they also consider the mysteries of the national identity—how the social and the personal mutually impinge." —Steven Cramer


Tony Hoagland is the author of four volumes of poetry Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty (2010); Sweet Ruin, winner of the Brittingham Prize in Poetry; Donkey Gospel, winner of the James Laughlin Award of The Academy of American Poets; and What Narcissism Means to Me, as well as a collection of essays about poetry, Real Sofistakashun, all by Graywolf Press. His poems and critical essays have appeared widely in journals and anthologies such as American Poetry Review, Harvard Review, and Ploughshares.

NYT review of Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty

He is the winner of the 2008 Jackson Poetry Prize, awarded by Poets & Writers magazine. The Jackson Prize citation stated that Hoagland "is a poet of risk: he risks wild laughter in poems that are totally heartfelt, poems you want to read out loud to anyone who needs to know the score and even more so to those who think they know the score. The framework of [Hoagland's] writing is immense, almost as large as the tarnished nation he wandered into under the star of poetry." In 2005 he received the O.B. Hardison Jr. Prize, awarded by the Folger Shakespeare Library; this is the only national prize to recognize a poet's teaching as well as his art. Hoagland also received the 2005 Mark Twain Award, given by the Poetry Foundation in recognition of a poet's contribution to humor in American poetry; of this award Stephen Young said,“There is nothing escapist or diversionary about Tony Hoagland’s poetry. Here’s misery, death, envy, hypocrisy, and vanity. But the still sad music of humanity is played with such a light touch on an instrument so sympathetically tuned that one can’t help but laugh. Wit and morality rarely consort these days; it’s good to see them happily, often hilariously reunited in the winner’s poetry.”

Poets & Writers article

Tony Hoagland's poems have been described as moving unerringly with wit and irony, like an arrow through its target—we, the readers—with exhilarating results. His poems sprint across the page and unexpectedly blow apart a single moment, exposing its contradictory nature—and often our folly. Hoagland explores the spiritual bereftness of American satisfaction, creating poetry that is scathing, funny, rich, and refreshingly intelligent.

Hoagland interview with PBS Art Beat 

Hoagland currently teaches in the poetry program at the University of Houston. He has also created an intensive seminar for teachers called The Five Powers of Poetry. With the goal of acquiring the understanding and skills to confidently teach poetry in the classroom, teachers learn Tony's five "powers":  image, diction, voice, structure, and implication. 

In Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty, Tony Hoagland is deep inside a republic that no longer offers reliable signage, in which comfort and suffering are intimately entwined, and whose citizens gasp for oxygen without knowing why. With Hoagland’s trademark humor and social commentary, these poems are exhilarating for their fierce moral curiosity, their desire to name the truth, and their celebration of the resilience of human nature.

About REAL SOFISTIKASHUN (Essays, 2006)
Real Sofistikashun, from the title onward, displays Hoagland’s signature abilities to entertain and to instruct as he forages through central questions about how poems behave and how they are made. In these taut, illuminating essays, Hoagland explores matters of poetic craft—metaphor, tone, rhetorical and compositional strategies—in a buoyant conversational style less that of the scholar than of the serious enthusiast and practitioner. Real Sofistikashun is a vigorous and provocative collection of essays, which may be as pleasurable a book as it is useful.