Wild Horses, Wild Dreams

New and Selected Poems 1971-2010
Poetry | $22.95/$25.95 in Canada | Trade Paper | 978-1-55643-962-9 | 310 pp.

Forthcoming: April 5, 2011

Wild Horses, Wild Dreams follows a trajectory from the early seventies to the present, giving a generous overview of Lindy Hough’s poetic world in emotionally evocative language. The book contains substantial work from Hough’s four early books, Changing Woman, Psyche, The Sun in Cancer, and Outlands & Inlands, plus new poems from recent years.

The poems show a delight in language and the transformative nature of art, grounded in place, and sensuous detail. The narrator of Changing Woman is a young mother in her early twenties, steeped in the rigors of life, questioning and ironic as she puzzles out truth and authenticity in Colorado and on the coast of Maine in surprisingly isolated circumstances.

In Psyche, she maps the inner life of a Vermont college town and its inhabitants, following the form and content of H.D.’s Helen In Egypt, which undertook to portray Helen of Troy’s view of the Trojan War. In The Sun in Cancer, Hough shows a delight with the leveling power of Buddhism in the exploration of consciousness, and digs deep into the life of the village of Plainfield, Vermont. Delight with her first child reinforces a hunger for learning, mirrored in the learning of the young child: “Learner, you are teaching me so much.”

Outlands & Inlands is written in Maine, Vermont and northern California. It questions language, authenticity, local cultures, and assumptions about truth and fidelity, in an attempt to reconcile opposites.

In the new poems, Hough continues her account of an attempt to square external reality with inner growth. Human dynamics are thrown up against a historical reckoning with contemporary life. Linguistic nuance and an attention to syntax are grounded by the breath poetics of projective verse.

Advanced praise for Wild Horses, Wild Dreams:

Language, as Snyder reminded us way back in the day, is a wild system. A wilderness. And Lindy Hough follows her words along the path of the poem. She trusts the poem and her ear, taking refuge in the language we’re given. I’m delighted to follow along, as the poems pick a way through intellectual, cultural and personal histories. They are hers, but mine too. These wild horses, these wild dreams—she’s become wise in the making of her poems.

—Bobby Byrd

In Wild Horses, Wild Dreams, the poet’s eye wanders, and collides with the mind. In the natural world, the web of human relations, and the conundrums of philosophical inquiry, Hough wages battle with the mirrors of illusion. What she sees is rarely what she thinks; senses and intellect play their tricks. Over time, the task gets simpler and deeper. Constructing meaning from gardens, marriage, motherhood, meditation, and movement until there is “a self one can live with,” Hough reminds us what it is to search and ultimately to find.

—Summer Brenner

Lindy Hough’s late poems fulfill this book and bring to mind her earlier purposes, whittled down now to an extraordinary quiet sense of presence. Nothing sanctimonious; nothing itching for more. Just more this.  Reading in sequence poems from many years of her life, we overhear promises she made—to language, to stay true— and see how she’s kept them. It’s not easy to stay true when your fable is everyday life. Her life is full of quick motion, oblique meetings, desperate accommodations. She reminds us she is a dancer—the one artist who is only at home all over the place. For all the dance, there is Yankee toughness here, chilling blunt beauty. We’ve waited a long time for this collection, and it’s worth the wait.

—Robert Kelly

The Stranger
I notice that most of the world
is trying to water down
the language one has tried so hard
to uncover
It’s the same process, the editors do,
the mothers do, the fathers I make my men into,
they want a little more class
a little more relation to the world at large
a little more plain-speaking
In therapy groups the leaders are especially
suspicious of language
“Too many words” they say
and when I am about to cry,
”I hear tears!”
as though it is a victory: See, we’re successful
at undermining your basic confidence
What kind of radical vultures are these
reporters, editors, interviewers, therapists?
These are my friends?
This is an economy I participate in?
These are people who would be my friends
only if I were to be like them,
only if I made myself consciously in their image,
scrawny and unsure and terrified of the world
I would have to be
a spider living underwater,
fueled by a shiny bubble
into which she drags her prey for safekeeping,
forgetting all the variable images of the world
she once knew
Gloucester, Various Histories
That which frees you from your tiny self
is love.
–Khaqani Shirwani
Catch everything, Beloved
Catch the chickadee discovering no food
at the feeder
Catch my excitement
walking around Gloucester with Gerrit,
his town, Olson and Ferrini’s town
Olson concerned to see Gloucester a well-run polis
as Maximus to Gloucester
a citizen involved with where he lived,
publicly, artistically, historically
showing up at town council meetings
Gloucester, with its multiple histories,
and heroes.
I embrace the layers, feel the richness
of early Dogtown through Olson,
Gerrit, Ferrini and now Charles Peter and Ferrini’s
son’s film & Peter Anastas’ history
We look out from Fort Square, a
sweet small park now, Richard does t’ai chi
we look out over the shore holding
a smart brass railing a play structure
for kids we look at the plaque
commemorating that Charles lived upstairs
Seeing Gloucester with Gerrit:
so precious, Beloved–but the missing years!
I torture myself about all the decades tumbling
when I haven’t gotten to know Gerrit like this
Time works as it does for a reason
Across from his house, Stage Fort Park
on Hough Avenue–
my name. My dad and grandfather, from Red Lodge,
Montana, were Governors of the Colorado
Mayflower Society, their ancestor, William Brewster
The first permanent settlement of the
Massachusetts Bay Colony was in 1623:
men anchored their ships in the harbor,
set up fish stages–drying platforms
on Fishermen’s Field
Miles Standish and Capt. Wm. Pierce
tried to take over the stages in 1625
fought, settling their fight at this huge rock
Looking out
you can imagine the fish houses on wharves,
the drying racks from Annisquam to Pigeon Point
Peter Anastas shows that Charles’ concern
to preserve specific houses &
parts of Gloucester in urban renewal
was heard by Paul Kenyon, editor of the Gloucester
Daily Times He reached an audience of
12,000 readers in editorials & poems he
sent to the newspaper, talked often before
city council as a citizen. He would have liked these
National Heritage Sites all over town,
“building, growing, sustaining our sense of place”
He was responsible for influencing an earlier generation
of town fathers and city planners to
value Gloucester’s history from 1965 on
We leave Gloucester, drive back up to Mt. Desert
I resolve to be around Gerrit more
listen to him play the piano & talk
while there’s time