Hummer, T.R. 1950–
Hummer, T.R. 1950–
(Terence Randolph Hummer)
PERSONAL: Born August 7, 1950, in Macon, MS; son of Charles Vernon (a postal worker and farmer) and Marion Kate (a homemaker; maiden name, Slocum) Hummer; second wife's name Stephanie; children: (first marriage) Theo (daughter); (second marriage) Jackson (daughter). Education: University of Southern Mississippi, B.A. (English), 1972, M.A. (English), 1974; University of Utah, Ph.D. (American literature and creative writing), 1980. Hobbies and other interests: Playing the saxophone.
CAREER: Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, assistant professor of English, 1980–84; Kenyon College, Gambier, OH, assistant professor of English, 1984–89; Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT, assistant professor of English and editor of New England Review, 1989–93; University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, professor and director of M.F.A. program in creative writing, 1993–97; Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, senior poet, 1997–2001; University of Georgia, Athens, editor of Georgia Review and professor of English, 2001–. Visiting professor, Exeter College, England; writer in residence, University of California—Irvine.
AWARDS, HONORS: National Endowment for the Arts poetry fellowships, 1987, 1992–93; Guggenheim fellowship, 1992–93; Pushcart Prize, 1990 and 1992; Hanes Poetry Prize, 1999; Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence, 2003; Phi Beta Kappa Poetry Prize finalist.
Translation of Light (poetry chapbook), Cedar Creek Press (Stillwater, OK), 1976.
The Angelic Orders (poetry), Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 1982.
The Passion of the Right-Angled Man (poetry), University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1984.
(Editor and author of introduction, with Bruce Weigl) The Imagination of Glory: The Poetry of James Dickey, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1984.
Lower-Class Heresy (poetry), University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1987.
The Eighteen-Thousand-Ton Olympic Dream (poetry), Morrow (New York, NY), 1990.
(Editor, with Devon Jersild) The Unfeigned Word: Fifteen Years of New England Review, University Press of New England (Hanover, NH), 1993.
Useless Virtues (poetry), Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 2001.
The Infinity Sessions (poetry), Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 2005.
The Muse in the Machine: Essays on Poetry and the Anatomy of the Body Politic, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 2006.
Contributor of poems to periodicals, including New Yorker, Harper's, Atlantic Monthly, Paris Review, and Georgia Review. Also former associate editor and editor in chief of Quarterly West, 1979; editor of Cimarron Review, 1980–84, and Kenyon Review, 1984–89; contributing editor, Kenyon Review, 1989–, and Manoa: A Literary Journal of the Pacific Rim; former guest editor of Bread Loaf Quarterly.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Bluegrass Wasteland: New and Selected Poems.
SIDELIGHTS: T.R. Hummer is a respected critic, scholar, and poet who is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes for his verses. Born and raised in Mississippi, his early poetry was naturally reflective of modern Southern poets, and his first verses have been compared to those of James Dickey, about whom he coedited the book The Imagination of Glory: The Poetry of James Dickey, and Dave Smith, who was Hummer's mentor while he attended the University of Utah. Furthermore, as a Contemporary Poets contributor noted, Hummer explored "pain, suffering, and regret" in his early poems: "The argument of his poetry is that we are shaped by our losses. What we lose becomes our emotional heritage."
However, with the exception of his very first poems, Hummer has said that he would not classify his poetry as Southern. "I think it is inaccurate to paint me as so unreconstructed a Southern poet," he told CA. "The real story is more vastly more complicated than that, and my last three books at least have not been Southern in the least, insofar as I understand that word to mean anything (take a look at Useless Virtues and see if it ain't so—I haven't been compared with Dickey since the early 80s)."
Among Hummer's current poetic themes are human sexuality, birth versus death, and political concerns. The latter theme especially comes to the fore in his collection The Eighteen-Thousand-Ton Olympic Dream, in which the poet laments the current state of America's working classes and environment. Although Penny Kaganoff, writing in Publishers Weekly, felt that Hummer "is sometimes given to superfluities of language and a rambling narrative," she praised his "startling imagery and lyrical descriptions."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Poets, 7th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2001.
Kenyon Review, spring, 2000, David Baker, "Heresy and the American Ideal: On T.R. Hummer," p. 131.
Publishers Weekly, April 13, 1990, Penny Kaganoff, review of The Eighteen-Thousand-Ton Olympic Dream, p. 59.