Reviews in 200 Words

What Narcissism Means To Me by Tony Hoagland

In Poetry on September 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Every once in a while, we’re faced with the importance of poetry, of art. If Philip Levine and Common aren’t a testament of its importance (and they are), Tony Hoagland is. He makes poetry the explanation for life. It’s not, does poetry matter, it’s, let me show you life that you can’t see. These individual poems might not save your life, but collectively, they prove that we’re all art: we’re all overly important. There is no person who isn’t obsessed with their self–their body and soul and being. It’s unavoidable. Hoagland is embracing the outrageousness that lives in us all. Thank goodness. …while I smiled and listened to her talk, / thinking it was good to let myself be stabbed by her little spears, / because I wanted to see what I was made of / besides fear and the desire to be liked / by every person on the goddamn face of the earth. Admitting is getting us somewhere. If we can whittle ourselves down to absolute destruction–to the basis of wanting to be loved, well, then maybe there is a greater chance of it after all. We’re pretty simple, really: we want to be thought of and touched—we want to be poetry.

-Micah Ling


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