Tony Hoagland | The Sun Magazine

Tony Hoagland

Tony Hoagland was the recipient of the Jackson Poetry Prize and the James Laughlin Award. His poetry collections include Priest Turned Therapist Treats Fear of God, Recent Changes in the Vernacular, and What Narcissism Means to Me, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He died in 2018.

— From March 2019

A Tribute To Tony Hoagland

By turns funny and sad, caustic and poignant, Tony’s poetry first appeared in The Sun in May of 2000, and he was a regular contributor for the past ten years. Though he frequently used humor to make his writing more accessible, he could still catch the reader off guard with a sudden shift in tone, ending a poem in a very different mood than where it began.

March 2019

Nature Is Strong

Put a bald truck tire in the top of a cypress tree in Florida / and soon an osprey will arrive to build its roost / of sharp dry twigs and torn-up winter grass.

February 2019

Selected Poems

from “In The Beautiful Rain” | Hearing that old phrase “a good death,” / which I still don’t exactly understand, / I’ve decided I’ve already / had so many, I don’t need another.

December 2018
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Cure For Racism Is Cancer

This strange country of cancer, it turns out, is the true democracy — one more real than the nation that lies outside these walls and more authentic than the lofty statements of politicians; a democracy more incontrovertible than platitudes or aspiration.

In the country of cancer everyone is simultaneously a have and a have-not. In this land no citizens are protected by property, job description, prestige, and pretensions; they are not even protected by their prejudices. Neither money nor education, greed nor ambition, can alter the facts. You are all simply cancer citizens, bargaining for more life.

September 2018

Illness And Literature

In those cold rooms with the blue plastic chairs, / sometimes the human condition / is an old Texas redneck with a brushy mustache / reading a Louis L’Amour novel / while waiting for his chemotherapy

February 2018

Selected Poems

from “Better Than Expected” | Things were not as bad as I had thought. / The scrape in the fender of the rented car / could be hidden with a little white paint / before I returned it to the agency.

August 2017


Do you have a twenty-foot extension ladder? / Good. / Let’s get it out of the garage. / I want to put this birdhouse up on one of the evergreens / that stands off your back deck.

October 2016

New Strategy

Instead of attacking one more foreign city, hammering it into rubble, / we adopt a new strategy and start bombing with money.

August 2016

Opening Night

Because the widow of the arms manufacturer / loves to listen to concertos in the evening, / the city finally has an orchestra.

June 2016

Cause Of Death: Fox News

Toward the end he sat on the back porch, / sweeping his binoculars back and forth / over the dry scrub-brush and arroyos, / certain he saw Mexicans

May 2016

The University Of Men

First Susan got engaged to an archeologist, / who took her to excavate dinosaur bones in Tibet. / At night in their double sleeping bag, / while he catalogued her body parts, / Suze discovered her inner Tibetan.

December 2015

Selected Poems

from “Good People” | On the way to the wedding of his friend, his car struck a dog, and he had no time to stop, / but he’s a good person.

October 2015
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