It is truly an honor to introduce this new poem by Heather McHugh. McHugh is like no other writer working today. In her understated, yet syntactically rebellious, poem, she uses what seem at first like small stylistic decisions to make startling and necessary claims about gender, form, and academia. In many ways, McHugh’s work responds to a glaring disparity between style and content in much of academic writing. Though academics working in literature and critical theory claim to privilege innovation, the forms of discourse often seem strict, plain, and fairly uniform in tone and style. In response to this disconnect, and the inherent contradictions in how knowledge is disseminated, McHugh offers a revolution in poetic language. Here, the nuances of poetic technique are brought to bear on questions of gender, otherness, and epistemology.
Heather McHugh received a B.A. (1970) from Harvard University and an M.A. (1972) from the University of Denver. Her additional books of poetry include A World of Difference (1981), Hinge and Sign: Poems, 1968-1993 (1994), The Father of the Predicaments (2001), and Upgraded to Serious (2009), among others. From 1999 to 2006, she was Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and she has served as a visiting faculty member at the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers since its inception in 1976. She is currently Milliman Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Washington in Seattle, a post she has held since 1984.