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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.

Day Job and Night Job

Andrew Hudgins
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 copied
Donne, Marlowe, Dickinson, and Frost,
scrawling the words I envied,

so my hand could move as theirs had moved
and learn outside of logic
how the masters wrote.  But why?  Words
would never heal the sick,

feed the hungry, clothe the naked,
blah, blah, blah.
Why couldn't I be practical,
Dad asked, and study law—

or take a single business class?
I stewed on what and why
till driving into work one day,
a burger on my thigh

and a sweating Coke between my knees,
I yelled, "Because I want to!"—
pained—thrilled!—as I looked down
from somewhere in the blue

and saw beneath my chastened gaze
another slack romantic
chasing his heart like an unleashed dog
chasing a pickup truck.

And then I spilled my Coke.  In sugar
I sat and fought a smirk.
I could see my new life clear before me.
lt looked the same.  Like work.

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

"Day Job and Night Job," 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
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
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
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