Richard Hugo

“When you start to write, you carry to the page one of two attitudes…one is that all music must conform to truth. The other, that all truth must conform to music. If you believe the first you are making your job very difficult.” – Richard Hugo, The Triggering Town

Richard Hugo (December 21, 1923 – October 22, 1982) was born in White Center, Seattle, and lived throughout the Northwest, finally settling In Missoula, MT where he taught poetry at the University of Montana. He was a friend and inspiration to many important writers of the West, including James and Lois Welch, William Kittredge, Frances McCue and countless others. In 1997 the Richard Hugo House was founded in Seattle  in his memory. Hugo, simply known as “Dick” by his students and friends, loved to visit small towns and remote places throughout the NW – from West Marginal Way to La Push, WA to small town bars in rural Montana. Some of his favorite pastimes included exploring abandoned places, going on long driving trips, and fishing. He spent much of his time sitting in cafés and bars, collecting images and what he liked to call “assumptions” about unknown, familiar places. Then, he would return home to write.  His brilliant collection of essays, The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing (1979), reflects his approach. Hugo published 13 books in total including many volumes of poetry, collected essays,  an autobiography, and a crime novel. He was a great lover of music, and jazz in particular.

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