by Heather McHugh

Hardcover, 2003





Middletown, Conn. : Wesleyan University Press, 2003.


Runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (2004) Runner-up for the ForeWord magazine's Book of the Year Award (2003) Heather McHugh's new book, Eyeshot, is a brooding, visionary work that takes aim at the big questions--those of love and death. The poems suggest that such immensities balance on the smallest details, and that a range of human blindness is inescapable. The power of this new work comes from its delicate yet tenacious fidelity to the ever-unfolding senses of sense. The poems invite the reader to follow careening words and insights through passages both playful and profound. Her "Fido, Jolted by Jove" reveals the tension endemic to both language and living: "the world itself is worried." Yet the same poem remarks the high price of any reductive fix: "a brain this insecure may need another bolt be driven in it." This movement between anxiety and the human compulsion for order informs Eyeshot's darkly comic, 20/20 acuity.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member chellerystick
Heather McHugh is a master of the word in this book. She can follow all of the associations of a word (both literal and punning) and make them all work. I particularly admire her work for being able to be serious and funny at the same time.
LibraryThing member jburlinson
Except for, perhaps, a little reservation about subject matter (for example, a poem about a hanged man with a death erection), this would be a good recommendation for a young person who needs to know that poetry can be fundamentally fun. McHugh’s poems often seem to be constructed in the same
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spirit that prevails when creating the crossword puzzle for the London Times. E.g. “My one/ and only: money/ minus one…” Words tremulously cling to their meanings, despite being deconstructed into some pretty curious contortions – “all history was fast repast, rewined, redowned!” There’s a bunch of sonic smackdowns, internal rhyme reminders, and consequential consonances – a thorough dismantling of staple words just off the shelf. Plus some formidable metaphors – as when a Fourth of July display is described as “practice / for an aneurysm.” My favorites include two poems called “songs for scientists”: one a meditation on the brain collection at Cornell University, the other an attempt to translate birdcalls into demotic English.
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