Saints and Strangers (Magill's Literary Annual 1986)
Of the best books of poems published in 1985, an unusual number are first collections. It is difficult to recall a year when so many young poets made such impressive beginnings. In Saints and Strangers, Andrew Hudgins demonstrates some fruitful ways of emerging distinctively from the metrical confusion of the past decade or so, and he presents a wide array of memorable characters and situations.
In several respects, Hudgins is reminiscent of the early James Wright. His lines are most often decasyllabic; his diction is usually that of casual speech; his subjects are often more appalling than the speaker seems to think they are. The important differences between Hudgins and the early Wright are that Hudgins uses rhyme much more sparingly than Wright did, and that Hudgins avoids the predictable phrasing that sometimes weakened Wright’s poems of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Nevertheless, the vocal similarities are sometimes striking, as in the opening lines of “Claims”:
It’s boys who find the bodies in the woodsand mostly boys who put them there.At cowboys and Indians—a murder game—they found two naked, dead, and rotting girlscovered with leaves and brush—not even dirt.
As Wright acknowledged, this is an older voice than his;...
(The entire section is 1882 words.)
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