American Rendering: New and Selected Poems

American Rendering: New and Selected Poems

by Andrew Hudgins
     
 

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American Rendering showcases twenty-four new poems as well as a generous selection from Andrew Hudgins’s six previous volumes, spanning a distinguished career of more than twenty-five years.

Hudgins, who was born in Texas and spent most of his childhood in the South, is a lively and prolific poet who draws on his vivid Southern and,more…  See more details below

Overview

American Rendering showcases twenty-four new poems as well as a generous selection from Andrew Hudgins’s six previous volumes, spanning a distinguished career of more than twenty-five years.

Hudgins, who was born in Texas and spent most of his childhood in the South, is a lively and prolific poet who draws on his vivid Southern and,more specifically, Southern Baptist, childhood. Influenced by writers such as John Crowe Ransom,William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, and James Dickey, Hudgins has developed a distinctively descriptive form of the Southern Gothic imagination. His poems are rich with religious allusions, irreverent humor, and at times are inflected with a dark and violent eroticism.Of Hudgins’s most recent collection, Ecstatic in the Poison, Mark Strand wrote: “[It] 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.”

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
From the Publisher

"[American Rendering] gives ample proof for the critical esteem in which [Hudgin’s] work is widely held. Hudgins’ poems are often funny, hinging on a joke or wisecrack or malapropism, but human nature red in tooth and claw has always been his greatest theme." —BookPage

"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." -- Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547487311
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
04/12/2010
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
File size:
161 KB

Read an Excerpt

My Daughter

After midnight, I dragged carpet padding
from a trash bin and spread it on the asphalt
between the wall and dumpster. Screened from sleet,
I pulled carpet remnants over me, and that night
I married, raised a family, and outlived everyone
except a daughter - a teacher - and her two children,
one damaged. I woke when a bread truck scraped the bin.
From under damp carpet, I watched punctilious men
sign invoices, sweep, hose down the docks. A boy
in a bloody butcher's smock leaned against the wall
and smoked through bloody fingers.
At night, I search
and sometimes find my daughter. “I make good money now,”
I tell her. “Let me take Teresa home with me.
I can buy the help she needs.” My daughter smiles,
asks how I'm doing, and I lose the moment
to my wife, my job, my actual
family, as the thick-faced infant bucks in her arms
or beats her forehead hard and almost musically
against the table. When I clench her to my belly,
she screams, red-faced and rigid. “Hush, hush, hush,”
I serenade her. “O unhushable baby, hush.”


Mother
Down the long, wide, and closely trimmed acres of Mammon,
plate toppling with saffron potato salad, I followed my shadow
to an appealingly dilapidated pond. Ghostly koi coasted under ripples
undulating to the tempo of hidden pumps. Fish mouths
mouthed my shadow, and among them moved a golden
adumbration. Voluptuous fins feathered the water, blossoming
like massive chrysanthemums that opened and opened
- bud to blowsy, blowsy to blown - and gently closed.
Gold propelled itself on delicate explosions, dissolving
and resolving in aureate metamorphoses, golden fish to golden flower,
flower to fish. But fins I thought petals were actually,
I could not believe this, wings. It was a trained bird, a pullet,
slipping under silk lilies. Before I could even be astonished,
the shadow of wealth stood beside my shadow, a large man,
sly look worn always openly. “I call that one Mother,” he said,
and laughed. “Then I'll call her Mother too,” I answered, laughing with him
because on Fridays I gathered balls while he snapped chip shots,
one after one, over the hood of his Benz, yellow balls
arcing black lacquer I'd polished and onto a green I'd swept.
He never thwacked a door panel, dimpled the hood, or, dear God,
as I prayed from behind a rigid grin, slapped a frosted star
through safety glass. “Risk,” he explained. “Risk makes you concentrate.”
Orange carp gulped hopefully at our reflections. A sandblasted dolphin,
nearly amorphous with calculated age, shot filtered water into filtered water.
“This is America,” he told me. Though I was the help, of course I was invited.
At our feet, Mother, never surfacing, lapped the pool like an Olympian.

Accelerator
The man in front of us leaned out his door
and spat. The radio boohooed,
“I'm wearing my crying shoes.” What the hell
does that mean? I wondered, as the blonde beside me,
eyes shut, heels propped on the dash, slapped her thighs,
and bawled, “Crying shoes! I'm wearing
my crying shoes.”
“This light's going to last forever,”
I said. “Let's steal a car!” she answered, eyes glistening.
Scuffed bucks rested on the drilled-out brake
and accelerator. They were my shoes. I had a car. We were in it.
Or was that her point - I was boredom itself?
The spitter wheeled into Burger King, stood,
and, one hand on the roof, spat compactly,
watching it. “Steal a car? How about a movie?”
“What are you, the only white man left in the world?”
“No, there's me and whoever's singing that goddamn song.
And that dude spitting on his shoes. But that's it.
That's all of us.” Violins slid in lard across the song's
sad bridge, and true to spoony music's low
simpering allure, I hummed along in her silence
until, with my right crying shoe, I pegged the accelerator.
The tires rose on haggard rubber, screaming
against the engine's scream, one song obliterating the other,
and the V-8 forging forward banged us back.

Lorraine's Song
Lorraine sang, Mouth or knife,
mouth or knife at
the knothole - which, which, which?
From the other side of the fence,
she sang, Steel or lips
at the knothole? Tongue
or blade? she chanted - which,
which, which, and giggled,
teasing. I put myself
in the hole. Myself? It felt
like my whole self when
she put her mouth on me
and I jerked away, afraid.
Bodiless laughter rang
from the opening, low and joyous.
Mouth or knife. Mouth
or knife. Which, which, which?

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Meet the Author

ANDREW HUDGINS is the author of seven books of poems, including Saints and Strangers, The Glass Hammer, and most recently Ecstatic in the Poison. A finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, he is a recipient of Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships as well as the Harper Lee Award. He currently teaches in the Department of English at Ohio State University.

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