American Rendering: New and Selected Poems

Andrew Hudgins, Author . Houghton Mifflin Harcourt $24 (221p) ISBN 978-0-547-24962-9

Hudgins’s eighth collection and first retrospective confirms him as one of the few poets of the American South who can be both solemn and sidesplitting in a single poem. “All griefs,” he writes, “...I would rank them top/ to bottom”: “Mom dies. You lose/ a winning Lotto ticket./ A Peterbilt pancakes your cat.” Elsewhere, Hudgins demonstrates his formal skill in tandem with historical reverence: “The Names of the Lost,” a villanelle on the 1964 struggle to register black voters in Mississippi, begins, “The nights burned all night long that Freedom Summer.” Hudgins is his most astonishing when he allows himself to write outside his own experience, as when he channels Jonathan Edwards in 1749 or narrates as a confederate soldier at the Battle of the Wilderness. This is when Hudgins’s humor, as it must, disappears, leaving the poet the room he needs to wrestle—and reconcile—with all aspects of his heritage, both the Southern and the American. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 01/25/2010
Release date: 04/01/2010
Genre: Fiction
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