Richard Hugo was a poet of the Pacific Northwest, yet his renown attests to a stature greater than that of most “regional” poets. In his poems Hugo reflected as much upon the internal region of the individual as on the external region of the natural world, and he considered these two deeply interconnected. According to Frederick Garber, “the landscape where things happen to Hugo goes as far into his mind as it goes outside of it”; Hugo’s poetry “is about the meeting of these landscapes.” The role of the past as a shaping force on the individual predominates. Critics have praised Hugo’s technical skills, the emotional impact of his compressed images, and the casual, sometimes humorous tone of his poems. His characteristic stance as a self-analytic writer, a perceptive observer, and a Westerner is evident in Making Certain It Goes On: The Collected Poems of Richard Hugo (1984).
—Poem from The Right Madness on Skye, W. W. Norton & Company, 1980