Best Local Poet - 2009
You get a sense of poet Tony Hoagland's outlook from the titles of his books (What Narcissism Means to Me and Donkey Gospel) and poems ("Benevolence" and "The Replacement"). His commentary on contemporary life is straightforward, sans flourish. He seems to avoid appearing intellectual when being ironic will do just as well. The winner of the James Laughlin Award and currently an associate professor in the University of Houston's graduate writing program, Hoagland examines manners, morals and, as follows, sex. From "Mission": "This time it's her, and her face / takes on the troubled, is-this-pain- / or-pleasure? look that people wear / when the train they're waiting for / comes through the station wall in flames, / the long legs of the water tower break / and desire drowns in its own destination."