Richard Hugo (December 21, 1923 – October 22, 1982), born Richard Hogan, was an American poet. Primarily a regionalist, Hugo's work reflects the economic depression of the Northwest, particularly Montana. Born in Seattle, Washington, he was raised by his mother's parents after his father left the family. In 1942 he legally changed his name to Richard Hugo, taking his stepfather's surname. He served in World War II as a bombardier in the Mediterranean. He left the service in 1945 after flying 35 combat missions and reaching the rank of first lieutenant.
Hugo received his B.A. in 1948 and his M.A. in 1952 in Creative Writing from the University of Washington where he studied under Theodore Roethke. He married Barbara Williams in 1952, the same year he started working as a technical writer for Boeing. Hugo also taught at University of Montana.
In 1961 his first book of poems, A Run of Jacks, was published. Soon after he took a creative writing teaching job at the University of Montana. He later became the head of the creative writing program there. His wife returned to Seattle in 1964, and they divorced soon after. He published five more books of poetry, a memoir, a highly respected book on writing, and also a mystery novel. His posthumous book of collected poetry, Making Certain It Goes On, evinces that his poems are marked by crisp, gorgeous images of nature that often stand in contrast to his own depression, loneliness, and alcoholism. Although almost always written in free verse, his poems have a strong sense of rhythm that often echoes iambic meters. He also wrote of large number of informal epistolary poems at a time when that form was unfashionable.
Hugo’s The Real West Marginal Way is a collection of essays, generally autobiographical in nature, that detail his childhood, his military service, his poetics, and his teaching.
Hugo remarried in 1974 to Ripley Schemm Hansen. In 1977, he was named the editor of the Yale Younger Poets Series.
Hugo died of leukemia on October 22, 1982.
Richard Hugo House is named after Hugo.
- A Run of Jacks (1961)
- Death of the Kapowsin Tavern (1965)
- Good Luck in Cracked Italian (1969)
- The Lady in Kicking Horse Reservoir (1973)
- What Thou Lovest Well, Remains American (1975)
- 31 Letters and 13 Dreams (1977)
- The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing (1979)
- Selected Poems (1979)
- The Right Madness on Skye (1980)
- White Center (1980)
- Death and the Good Life (Mystery Novel) (1981)
- The Real West Marginal Way: a Poet's Autobiography (1987)
- Making Certain it Goes On: The Collected Poems of Richard Hugo (1984)
- Richard Hugo, John Haines, William Matthews, Reg Saner, Richard Shelton, Gary Soto, William Stafford, and David Wagoner (1982). Wild, Peter and Graziano, Frank, ed. New Poetry of the American West. Durango, CO: Logbridge-Rhodes. p. 104. ISBN 978-0937406199. OCLC 8589531, 655452420 and 610178960 (print and on-line)
- Eat Stone and Go On – The Recorded Poetry of Richard Hugo
- The Academy of American Poets: Richard Hugo
- The Richard Hugo House – a Seattle non-profit that supports and educates writers
- Richard Hugo’s Constructivist Moment: On The Triggering Town on-line essay by Joshua Corey on Hugo's poetics
- Kicking the Loose Gravel Home - A film by Annick Smith