August 18, 2010
Vol: 17 No: 33

Interview

On the trail of the poet

by: Robin Lindley , Contributing Writer

Seattle writer Frances McCue on her quest for Richard Hugo -- and beyond

Writer Frances McCue, left, and photographer Mary Randlett recapture the world of local poet Richard Hugo in words and images.

Photo by: Greg Gilbert , Contributing Photographer

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The small towns of Washington, Oregon and especially Montana triggered or inspired many of the major, career-defining poems of Richard Hugo.  From each place, says poet and founding director of Richard Hugo House Frances McCue, images led to memorable works “that capture the torque between temperament and terrain that is so vital in any consideration of place.”

McCue, in collaboration with legendary Northwest photographer Mary Randlett, revisits the towns and retraces the odyssey that, more than four decades past, inspired much of Hugo’s most deeply felt work.  Her new book, “The Car that Brought You Here Still Runs: Retracing the Northwest Towns of Richard Hugo” (University of Washington Press), blends McCue’s innovative travel writing and small town history with Randlett’s starkly evocative black-and-white prints to greatly deepen our understanding of this beloved Northwest writer.

In a recent conversation at a Montlake caf

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