Richard Hugo

Richard Hugo

December 21, 1923 – October 22, 1982
Countries: USA

Richard Hugo (December 21, 1923 – October 22, 1982), born Richard Franklin Hogan, was an American poet. Primarily a regionalist, Hugo's work reflects the economic depression of the Northwestern United States, particularly Montana. Born in the White Center area of Seattle, Washington, he was raised by his mother's parents after his father left the family. In 1942 he legally changed his name to Richard Hugo, taking his stepfather's surname. He served in World War II as a bombardier in the Mediterranean. He left the service in 1945 after flying 35 combat missions and reaching the rank of first lieutenant.
Hugo received his B.A. in 1948, and his M.A. in Creative Writing four years later, from the University of Washington where he studied under Theodore Roethke. He married Barbara Williams in 1952, the same year he started working as a technical writer for Boeing.
In 1961 his first book of poems, A Run of Jacks, was published. Soon after he took a creative writing teaching job at the University of Montana. He later became the head of the creative writing program there. His wife returned to Seattle in 1964; they divorced soon after. He published five more books of poetry, a memoir, a highly respected book on writing, and also a mystery novel. His posthumous book of collected poetry, Making Certain It Goes On, evinces that his poems are marked by crisp, gorgeous images of nature that often stand in contrast to his own depression, loneliness, and alcoholism. Although almost always written in free verse, his poems have a strong sense of rhythm that often echoes iambic meters. He also wrote a large number of informal epistolary poems at a time when that form was unfashionable.
Hugo’s The Real West Marginal Way is a collection of essays, generally autobiographical in nature, that detail his childhood, his military service, his poetics, and his teaching.
Hugo remarried in 1974 to Ripley Schemm Hansen. In 1977, he was named the editor of the Yale Younger Poets Series.
Hugo died of leukemia in Seattle on October 22, 1982. Hugo House - a non-profit community writing center in Seattle - is named after him.