31 Letters and 13 Dreams (Paperback)
W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393044904, 71pp.
Publication Date: November 17, 1977
Richard Hugo, whom Carolyn Kizer has called” one of the most passionate, energetic, and honest poets living,” here offers an extraordinary collection of new poems, each one a “letter” or a “dream.” Both letters and dreams are special manifestations of alone-ness; Hugo’s special senses of alone-ness, of places, and of other people are the forces behind his distinctively American and increasingly authoritative poetic voice.
Each letter is written from a specific place that Hugo has made his own (a “triggering town,” as he has called it elsewhere) to a friend, a fellow poet, an old love. We read over the poet’s shoulder as the town triggers the imagination, the friendship is re-opened, the poet’s selfhood is explored and illuminated. The “dreams” turn up unexpectedly (as dreams do) among the letters; their haunting images give further depth to the poet’s exploration. Are we overhearing them? Who is the “you” that dreams?