March 1, 2007AWP Conference, AtlantaFrom the Academy Audio Archive

About this poet

Andrew Hudgins was born in Killeen, Texas, in 1951 and educated at Huntingdon College and the University of Alabama. He earned his MFA from the University of Iowa in 1983.

His volumes of poetry include Ecstatic in the Poison (Overlook Press, 2003); Babylon in a Jar (1998); The Glass Hammer: A Southern Childhood (1994); The Never-Ending: New Poems (1991),a finalist for the National Book Awards; After the Lost War: A Narrative (1988), which received the Poetry Prize; and Saints and Strangers (1985), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is also the author of a book of essays, The Glass Anvil (1997).

About Hudgins's most recent collection, Mark Strand has said, "Ecstatic in the Poison is full of intelligence, vitality, and grace. And there is a beautiful oddness about it. Dark moments seem charged with an eerie luminosity and the most humdrum events assume a startling lyric intensity. A deep resonant humor is everywhere, and everywhere amazing."

Hudgins's awards and honors include the Witter Bynner Award for Poetry, the Hanes Poetry Prize, and fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Hudgins has taught at Baylor University and University of Cincinnati; he currently teaches at Ohio State University.

Blur

Andrew Hudgins
Storms of perfume lift from honeysuckle,
lilac, clover—and drift across the threshold,
outside reclaiming inside as its home.
Warm days whirl in a bright unnumberable blur,
a cup—a grail brimmed with delirium
and humbling boredom both.  I was a boy,
I thought I'd always be a boy, pell—mell,
mean, and gaily murderous one moment
as I decapitated daises with a stick,
then overcome with summer's opium,
numb—slumberous.  I thought I'd always be a boy,
each day its own millennium, each
one thousand years of daylight ending in
the night watch, summer's pervigilium,
which I could never keep because by sunset
I was an old man.  I was Methuselah,
the oldest man in the holy book.  I drowsed.
I nodded, slept—and without my watching, the world,
whose permanence I doubted, returned again,
bluebell and blue jay, speedwell and cardinal
still there when the light swept back,
and so was I, which I had also doubted.
I understood with horror then with joy,
dubious and luminous joy: it simply spins.
It doesn't need my feet to make it turn.
It doesn't even need my eyes to watch it,
and I, though a latecomer to its surface, I'd
be leaving early.  It was my duty to stay awake
and sing if I could keep my mind on singing,
not extinction, as blurred green summer, lifted
to its apex, succumbed to gravity and fell
to autumn, Ilium, and ashes.  In joy
we are our own uncomprehending mourners,
and more than joy I longed for understanding
and more than understanding I longed for joy.

"Blur," from Ecstatic in the Poison by Andrew Hudgins. Copyright © 2003 by Andrew Hudgins. Used by permission of Overlook Press (www.overlookpress.com).

"Blur," from Ecstatic in the Poison by Andrew Hudgins. Copyright © 2003 by Andrew Hudgins. Used by permission of Overlook Press (www.overlookpress.com).

Andrew Hudgins

Andrew Hudgins

Andrew Hudgins was born in Killeen, Texas, in 1951 and educated at Huntingdon College and the University of Alabama.

by this poet

poem
After my night job, I sat in class
and ate, every thirteen minutes,
an orange peanut—butter cracker.
Bright grease adorned my notes.

At noon I rushed to my day job
and pushed a broom enough
to keep the boss calm if not happy.
In a hiding place, walled off

by bolts of calico and serge,
I read my masters and
poem
In
When we first heard from blocks away
the fog truck's blustery roar,
we dropped our toys, leapt from our meals,
and scrambled out the door

into an evening briefly fuzzy.
We yearned to be transformed—
translated past confining flesh
to disembodied spirit.  We swarmed

in thick smoke, taking human form
before we
poem
Home (from Court Square Fountain—    
where affluent ghosts still importune     
a taciturn
slave to entertain
them with a slow barbarous tune     
in his auctioned baritone—
to Hank Williams' headstone      
atop a skeleton 
loose in a pristine
white suit and bearing a pristine
white bible, to the black

collected in

collection
“I trust your Garden was willing to die ...