Andrew Hudgins is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently American Rendering: New and Selected Poems (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010) and Shut Up, You’re Fine: Instructive Poetry for Very, Very Bad Children (Overlook Press, 2009), with illustrations by Barry Moser. He teaches at the Ohio State University. His essay “Helen Keller Answers the Iron” appears in the Spring 2011 issue of KR. An excerpt is available here.
KR: What’s one book, contemporary or otherwise, that you wish you had written?
AH: That’s a question that’s impossible to answer of course. Obvious and true answers like King Lear, Emily Dickinson’s Collected Poems, The Canterbury Tales, Four Quartets, Keats’ great odes are just that–obvious, and thus boring. An equally true answer like Urn Burial, which I love, seem deliberately precious. I’m tempted to say J. D. Robb’s Treachery in Death. It’s the number one bestseller in the country right now, and if I’d written it, I’d probably be set for life.
KR: Have classroom experiences (as a teacher, as a student) figured largely in your development as a writer?
AH: They have figured, but not largely. I’ve learned things about rhyme from Dan Groves and metrical verse from Ashley McHugh and about voice from Danny Anderson. But I learn mostly from reading, thinking, and doing my own writing. And mostly what I’ve learned from the students comes from outside the classroom, when I’m reading and thinking about their finished work.
KR: What advice would you give yourself five years ago?
AH: I don’t think my wisdom has expanded enough in the last five years that I’d have a damn think useful to tell that somewhat younger me, but I do know him well enough to know he’d do what he wants to anyway, no matter what I told him. Young people are like that.
KR: Of all the things you could be doing, why do you write?
AH: I’m Kafka’s Hunger Artist. If I had found something else I’d rather do, I’d have done it.