Whether sorrowful or sassy, the poems in this new collection bear McHugh's signature: a lively love for the very language she bewares.
Available now in paperback, The Father of the Predicaments is Heather McHugh's first book since Hinge & Sign was selected as a National Book Award finalist and chosen a Best Book of the Year by the New York Times and Publishers Weekly. In this witty and deeply felt collection, McHugh takes her cue from Aristotle, who wrote that "the father of the predicaments is being." For McHugh, being is intimately, though perhaps not ultimately, bound to language, and these poems cut to the quick, delivering their revelations with awesome precision
"'No word can clear itself' in this accomplished volume of poems, which illuminates how the contradictions and dualities concealed in language both betray and redeem us . . . McHugh emerges as a kind of seer, and her striking conceits and crackling rhythms reveal an intellect that is often as sensuous as it is clever."~The New Yorker
""McHugh's terse and deeply intelligent poems teach the virtues of wit, curiosity, patience and attention. Like Rilke and Celan, McHugh makes a poem into a storehouse of predicaments—a field of compound and divided meanings never synthesized or resolved . . . McHugh uses paradox and equivocation to quarry and refine hard truths from the vernacular: that living is dying, that the mind has only itself to know itself. McHugh's poems are not flights from these truths but honest and often humorous efforts to bear them.""~Newsday
""Her writing is so alert to itself, so alert to language, it's like watching a dancer on a mirrored floor, stepping on her steps. She's practically playing with her words as she writes them down. 'Joycean' is the word that comes to mind . . . This kind of writing could seem like pure playfulness, but in McHugh it rarely does . . . She's a poet for whom wit is a form of spiritual survival.""~Robert Hass, The Washington Post Book World
"" 'No word can clear itself' in this accomplished volume of poems, which illuminates how the contradictions and dualities concealed in language both betray and redeem us . . . McHugh emerges as a kind of seer, and her striking conceits and crackling rhythms reveal an intellect that is often as sensuous as it is clever.""~The New Yorker
""Heather McHugh is one of the brightest of the Pacific Northwest's literary jewels . . . These poems slide like quicksilver in and out of one's grasp playful and provocative . . . McHugh's elusive, allusive language is the fitting instrument for knowing a world that is equally unsettled . . . McHugh's poems offer the constant delight of words and worlds made new. The Father of the Predicaments stands as a remarkable achievment of contemporary poetry.""~Seattle Times