Richard Hugo

Richard Hugo, a native of Seattle, Washington, studied under Theodore Roethke. He grew up poor in dismal urban environments and excelled at communicating the hopes, fears, and frustrations of working people against the backdrop of the northwestern United States. Hugo wrote nostalgic, confessional poems in bold iambics about shabby, forgotten small towns in his part of the United States; he wrote of shame, failure, and rare moments of acceptance through human relationships. He focused the reader's attention on minute, seemingly inconsequential details in order to make more significant points. "What Thou Lovest Well, Remains American" (1975) ends with a person carrying memories of his old hometown as if they were food:

in case you're stranded in some odd
empty town
and need hungry lovers for friends,
and need feel
you are welcome in the street club
they have formed.