Concern for the Culture
Human beings love using sarcasm, irony, and mockery to cope with their personal struggles they have with society. Tony Hoagland is a confessional poet who conveys his personal experiences through those particular mechanisms. However, these experiences Hoagland writes about are not always as light hearted as his diction. Hoagland exploits human mannerisms in his work and uses them to unveil his deep seated issues with the society he lives in. In three of Hoagland’s poems, “At the Galleria Shopping Mall”, “Adam & Eve”, and “Lucky”, Hoagland takes an individual and exposes his disdain towards that particular individual and their behavior. The reader should not just think Hoagland dislikes this person but, realize Hoagland uses the individual in his poetry to represent the shortcomings of society. Hoagland does not seem to hate any of the individuals he writes about, in his eyes, these individuals are just merely the products of the society they live in. In the poem “At the Galleria Shopping Mall” Hoagland depicts his niece’s shopping habits, mocking her snobby disposition. Hoagland writes in the poem: And here is my niece Lucinda,
who is nine and a true daughter of Texas,
who has developed the flounce of a pedigreed blonde
and declares that her favorite sport is shopping.
Hoagland is claiming Lucinda, the nine year-old niece from Texas, is just fitting into the social norm. At this point the reader would think Hoagland correlates his niece with being a materialistic brat and a diva. However, Hoagland is pointing out that it is not just his niece that behaves in this manner. The statement “a true daughter of Texas” establishes that Hoagland is mocking the whole idea of materialistic women in Texas. This statement makes it seem that Texas would be proud to have a daughter like this and that it was expected of Lucinda to grow up this way. As the reader continues reading the poem it would appear Hoagland loathes his niece and her behavior but, actually he is just proving a point about the youth of this generation. Hoagland goes on to say in “At the Galleria Shopping Mall”: Today is the day she embarks upon her journey,
swinging a credit card like a scythe
through the meadows of golden merchandise.
Today is the day she stops looking at faces,
and starts assessing the labels of purses;
Hoagland makes it seem as if shopping this way is a growth in age, almost like a bar mitzvah or quinceañera of sorts. It is a claim to represent that this behavior dictates she is getting older in retrospect to the “mother’s of Texas.” If the reader really analyzes this poem though, they will see Hoagland is expressing his issue with this behavior becoming culturally acceptable to act this way. He does not loathe his niece; this is Hoagland simply just using a subject and a variable to reveal his true feelings about the youth. Hoagland displays another instance of general concern for society in his poem from the Donkey Gospel entitled “Adam & Eve”. The poem shows Hoagland’s disdain towards the primal desires of males. He describes his own sexual frustration in this poem: I wanted to punch her right in the mouth and that's the truth. ……………………………………………
when at the crucial moment, the all-important moment,
the moment standing at attention,
she held her milk white hand agitatedly
over the entrance to her body and said No,
After all the build up and all the work, in the part we skipped, Hoagland is told “No”; which is ironic because Hoagland made it seem as if the coitus was imminent. The reader can feel Hoagland’s disappointment quickly turn to anger when he was told “no.” People do not like to be told no when they want something so badly but, to have such rage that you want to hit this woman is a horrific human reaction in the context of sexual frustration. Hoagland is playing off the fact that, “we have all been there before” mentality to make this an understandable feeling. The...
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