Hughey, Elizabeth

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Hughey, Elizabeth


Born in AL. Education: Graduate of Hollins College; University of Massachusetts at Amherst, M.F.A.


Home—Montague, MA. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer, poet, and educator.


Iowa Poetry Prize, 2006, for Sunday Houses the Sunday House.


Sunday Houses the Sunday House (poems), University of Iowa Press (Iowa City, IA), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals, including Hat, Shampoo, Southern Poetry Review, and La Petite Zine.


Poet Elizabeth Hughey is a frequent contributor to poetry magazines and is a teacher in western Massachusetts. Her debut collection of poems, Sunday Houses the Sunday House, received the Iowa Poetry Prize in 2006, with publication by the University of Iowa Press following in 2007. In a press release on the University of Iowa Press Web site, press director Holly Carver is quoted as saying, ‘In ineffably beautiful verse, Hughey captures moments in time and place with confidence but without being judgmental."

Many of Hughey's works focus on the events of a small, quiet moment, or on the lessons that can be learned from carefully considering the nature of an inanimate object, Carver observed. Every one of the ‘small and shapely poems’ in the collection ‘opens into a little domestic world,’ commented Sue Russell in Library Journal. In ‘Egg, Egg,’ for example, Hughey encapsulates the world of the hard-boiled egg, playing on the traditional three-minute cooking time, the texture and characteristics of the finished egg, and the simple but at the same time astonishing processes of heat and chemistry that result in a perfect, and perfectly contained, food. Other poems in the book show Hughey demonstrating her careful mastery of her poetic tools. ‘A One and A,’ for example, displays a ‘strong, inventive voice with masterful control,’ remarked David Sewell in Coldfront magazine. As a poet ‘Hughey is often interested in temporality, in troubling linear time by traveling back and forth and all around it,’ Sewell observed.

Other poems take the reader back in time, to events that narrators know about even before they occur. In ‘The Long Hello,’ the narrator promises to ‘live this whole thing backwards next time.’ When the narrator of ‘Country Song’ receives a letter, it has already been read. ‘Happiest Hours’ finds a narrator walking back through time, to better days and the happier hours of the title. ‘On their own,’ Sewell remarked, ‘these poems are strong.’ Despite this overall favorable reaction, Sewell found some shortcomings in the book. ‘Hughey is a strong poet, but this is not an exceptionally strong book,’ commented Sewell. ‘The good poems in it are quite good. But strip out the lesser poems, … and you're left with only 30 or so pages.’ Yet Sewell was generous with his praise and was convinced that Hughey is a poet of considerable power and potential. ‘Often these are very short poems, more imagistic and more abstract,’ he noted, calling Hughey ‘a talented poet with an intriguing personal point of view."



Library Journal, April 15, 2007, Sue Russell, review of Sunday Houses the Sunday House, p. 94.


Coldfront magazine, (August 20, 2007), David Sewell, review of Sunday Houses the Sunday House.

Elizabeth Hughey Home Page, (November 18, 2007).

University of Iowa News Services, (September 26, 2006), ‘2006 Iowa Poetry Prize Winners Announced."