With a nod to Melville’s mutual, joint-stock world, in all meridians, Henry Hughes joins savagery and civilization, sex and sexuality, bodies and ideas, animals and humans, men and women all in a dazzling cast of voices. Praised by Li-Young Lee for the gorgeous and masterful writing in his Oregon Book Award-winning Men Holding Eggs, the new poems of Moist Meridian show us the growing range and depth of this accomplished writer.
I find Henry Hughes to be a remarkable landscapist and story-teller, and I love the sassy, brassy, crash of his anecdotal poems. He is braver than most of us in dealing with sex without losing focus. He seems completely honest. And again and again, one is lured by him, as land, water and people come together in exotic but all-too-human catastrophes.
Navigating the meridian of Eros, steeping themselves in a heady, resonant music, these poems teem with savvy wit, offering us their startling, secular epiphanies. In this bold, impressive collection, we learn …if a tree s cut deep inside your sleep/ it makes a sound like sex. With fierce intelligence, with full-tilt sensuality, Henry Hughes gives us a world where appetites get the best of us and give the best to us, too.
T.S. Eliot once damned a poet by saying: “He had the experience, but missed the meaning.” To flip that infamous criticism: Henry Hughes has the experiences, but he also definitely gets their meanings. Hughes is a wise, generous poet. His new poems are tender and empathetic. His faith in life is so much out in the clear–where the light is sharp and the darknesses real. Whether it’s from a fleeting image or a life-burdened memory, Hughes doesn’t simply record, he discovers and recovers. More so, he affirms, weighs, appreciates, and displays such a fine empathy for life and the living that when you are done reading these poems you may find yourself cherishing humanity a little bit more.
For me, Moist Meridian is a place where a New Yorker’s awareness and honesty meets the vast expanse of the West and its unusual set of characters.
–Saralyn Hilde, Oregon Arts Commission
Henry’s book, Moist Meridian, is available from Amazon.