What Narcissism Means to Me

What Narcissism Means to Me
Tony Hoagland

A Finalist for the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award

“Tony Hoagland’s disarming poetry collection What Narcissism Means to Me has the appeal of a mean-but-funny friend, a smart aleck you can’t dismiss, he’s so entertaining and (most of the time) so spot on in his insights. Hoagland’s central subject is the self, specifically, a prickly, grandiose American masculine poetic self, or to be more specific still, what the author ruefully labels in one poem ‘a government called Tony Hoagland.’”—The New York Times Book Review

About the Book

"Tony Hoagland has written a book of poems from deep inside the American empire—hilarious, searing poems that break your heart so fast you hardly notice you're standing knee deep in a pool of implications." —Marie Howe
How did I come to believe in a government called Tony Hoagland?
With an economy based on flattery and self-protection?
and a sewage system of selective forgetting?
and an extensive history of broken promises?
—from "Argentina"

In What Narcissism Means to Me, award-winning poet Tony Hoagland levels his particular brand of acute irony not only on the personal life, but also on some provinces of American culture. In playful narratives, lyrical outbursts, and overheard conversations, Hoagland cruises the milieu, exploring the spiritual vacancies of American satisfaction. With humor, rich tonal complexity, and aggressive moral intelligence, these poems bring pity to our folly and celebrate our resilience.

Additional Reviews

“Tony Hoagland has a smart and sassy way of thinking about America in his work. He is one of the few poets self-consciously trying to come to terms with—to find a way to think about—the apparent omnipotence and inescapability of the mass culture that surrounds us like a sea. We are endlessly swimming through its waters. His third book, with is comic, self-mocking and very American title, What Narcissism Means to Me, heads off into uncharted territory. It is his best collection yet.”—Edward Hirsch, The Washington Post Book World

“A Late Night Show of poetry hosted by a high priest of irony (check out the title), that is Tony Hoagland’s new book. These poems are very funny, but they are also sad, sharp-edged and ambitious. They wish to be more than just amusing cautionary tales.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Tony Hoagland turns heartache into poetry so beautiful it makes you crave melancholy.”—Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

“[Hoagland’s] sharp, sleek, salty poems are there for anyone who relishes that feeling of being momentarily taken, suddenly shaken, or briefly awakened.”—City Pages, chosen as an “Artist of the Year”