Mike Schneider: Appreciating Tony Hoagland (1953-2018) — Notes on “America”

I’m not knocked out by the reading on the YouTube performance–too rushed. But an article, poem, and poet of great interest, even for non-Pittsburghers.

Vox Populi

From Tony Hoagland’s third book,WhatNarcissism Means to Me, his poem “America” flaps the self-loving flag of his marvelously ironical title. As Tony explained in a 2003 interview with Miriam Sagan, he regarded the myth-based concept of looking at yourself in a mirror as both healthy and not — noting presciently that “some people give self-love a bad name” — andmeant his title to signify a dilemma:

to recognize that self-centeredness is often a kind of confinement in a small space, a blindness, a self-made separation from the world, an entertaining prison. A swamp. At the same time the self is a necessary address, and without self-love, where would we be?

In “America” Tony expands his reflections — carefully chosen word — on self-love to a collective conceit for American consumer capitalism. The unspoken intertextual frame is Ginsberg’s great poem of the same title. The second poem in

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