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The Father of the Predicaments

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  53 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
Available now in paperback, The Father of the Predicaments is Heather McHugh's first book since Hinge & Sign was selected as a National Book Award finalist and chosen a Best Book of the Year by the New York Times and Publishers Weekly. In this witty and deeply felt collection, McHugh takes her cue from Aristotle, who wrote that the father of the predicaments is being. ...more
Paperback, 86 pages
Published November 29th 2001 by Wesleyan (first published 1999)
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Jen
Jun 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
You know, I feel like I should like Heather McHugh's poetry. I know I've liked individual poems of hers in anthologies, but most the poems in this anthology gave me the impression she was trying to impress someone with her word play and the meanings behind them, which I simply didn't care enough to take the time to fathom and certainly haven't read enough philosophy (especially those who loved the whole sign-signifier thing) to grasp, let alone appreciate. So it clearly wasn't me she was trying ...more
Matthew
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
Is McHugh's poetry too densely clever at points? Perhaps. But for me that wordplay is perfectly balanced with the book's heart, which tackles life and death issues (being with someone in their final moments, for example) with a genuine, accessible, artful sensitivity. I'm a fan.

Quite often I'd stop paying attention to the wordplay because I was too busy enjoying the musicality, the way the words sound when read aloud, how they would build on one another, bleed into each another, the cadence of e
...more
Kitty
Jun 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I have read and re-read with enjoyment the poems in this book, especially the opening 15 page poem, "Not a Prayer" where McHugh weaves voices of narrator, her beloved aphasic teacher about to die, and her teacher's family, inner monologues. A collection of poems which struggle in one way or another with words that refuse to express what we want to express, as in "woe is me" in "3 to's and an Oi". Four sections of poems which carry the McHugh trademark of diamond-sharp craftsmanship, where the Fr ...more
Carolyn Hembree
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
The title poem -- a longish sequence -- is astonishing: one of the most beautiful elegies I've read. Also, it teaches very well. While it breaks your heart. McHugh lets a phrasing, a single word, a syllable determine, it seems, the poem's development as much as narrative, meditation, rhetoric. Her brand of lyricism makes the elegy for her friend (losing her faculties) that much more searing and incisive: the poem stumbles, reaches for language as does the dying one.
William Owen
Oct 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, essential
The material in this book is wonderful, but everything is secondary to Not a Prayer, a long, grand, tender poem which begins:

"We sleep inside a bullet-
cheek to cheek, in public
anonymity- and then we wake."

If this book contained only the poem "Not a Prayer" it would still be worth buying above almost every other book.
kc
Feb 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
fanfuckingtastic
DilanAc
May 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Honest not sentimental. Incredible variety in line length in a single poem. The first poem, Not a Prayer, describing intimate details of a loved one's death, is incredible.
Diane
Oct 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
For every pleasure, a dozen too-clever frustrations.
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