Writing off the Subject
“Writing off the Subject”
Richard Hugo, in his essay “Writing off the Subject” (1992), asserts that in poetry writing, it is important that the music of language be allowed to hold a poem together even risking sentimentality. Hugo explains this concept by tackling the inverse of the title, describing vividly how to write around a poem in such a way that it is not smothered or milked dry, wherein the subject serves the words even if it means violating the facts. His purpose is to persuade budding writers to write creatively without necessarily conforming to other writers’ style or bounded by a single idea or subject which can seriously limit a writer’s creativity. Hugo creates an informal relationship with his audience in a fun and lighthearted manner.
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“The Triggering Town”
In the essay “The Triggering Town”, Richard Hugo (1992) encourages poetry writers to write poetry as one would write fiction, where a writer writes what feels accurate instead of what is accurate. As he usually does, Hugo uses town to illustrate his idea, emphasizing the beauty for an almost impossible disconnect from the triggering subject and implying his preference for a word soup style of writing that ignores narrative and focuses on pretty sounds. Hugo speaks to would-be writers to learn to appreciate the sounds of words and use them generously in order to create beautiful poetry. He develops a rather fun relationship with his readers.
Hugo, R., 1992, “The Triggering Town: A Classic Book of Lectures and Essays on Poetry Writing”, Norton Press.