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Finding Form For God And Hell

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(Staff Photo: Richard Davis) Ashley McHugh, winner of The New Criterion Poetry Prize for "Into These Knots" will read from her work at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 30 at Nightbird Books in Fayetteville for the final Ozark Poets and Writers Collective event of 2010. Autographed copies are available at Nightbird Books.

Award winner McHugh to appear at OPWC

By Ginny Masullo

TFW Contributing Writer

Ashley McHugh, Ozark Poets and Writers featured reader this Tuesday, Nov. 30, won The New Criterion Poetry Prize, a prestigious award for a book-length manuscript of poetry that pays special attention to form. Booklist cites the New Criterion Poetry Prize as “a more reliable indicator of readability than most other poetry prizes.”
McHugh’s collection “Into These Knots” fits that bill.
From God to hell, from no God to heaven, from affairs to suicide to a paralyzed man’s prayers and on to love found and love lost, McHugh writes of life, its own sweet and sour self.
Her deft and seamless use of form compresses and lightens the weight of the subject matter.

“My Mother’s Guide to Getting Hitched and Staying that Way”

“He’s statue-smitten, mad for marble,”/
“But,” she tells me, “lovers should believe/
In the impossible.”/

So Venus grins and his girl’s set free.
She means to say, Stay certain.
Be naïve.
Hope the gods agree.

McHugh, who is in the University of Arkansas MFA creative writing program, is senior editor for Linebreak, an up-and-coming online poetry magazine.
She says, “Going through the submissions to Linebreak, we come across such lovely poems. Reading such good poems, over and over again, really encourages me, but it also challenges me to work harder and to be a tougher critic of my own poetry. ”
When asked what the tone of her reading might be, McHugh replied, “What I love about the Ozark Poets and Writers’ readings is that before and after the featured writer reads his or her work, there’s an open mic. It really encourages a sense of community, even camaraderie, that’s rare to come across; and the atmosphere is always warm and welcoming. I really hope that my reading can reflect that.
Also, this reading for OPWC will only be the second time that I’ve read from my book. I’m sure that it will feel, at least to me, like a kind of celebration.”
Celebrate McHugh’s new book, OPWC’s last 2010 reading and your own poetry at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Nightbird Books on Dickson Street.
OPWC will resume meeting in January.

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