The 2014 winner of the Richard Hugo Sense of Place award is Sophie Hadjipateras from Greenwich, Connecticut, USA for her piece “Olive Trees.”
He was a revolutionary poet who changed writing for northwest poets and poets all around the country. His name was Richard Hugo. Born in White Center, Washington, this WWII veteran got his start in 1952 under a creative writing teacher named Theodore Roethke. It was the same year that he began working as a technical writer for Boeing. It wasn’t until 1961 that his first book of poetry, A Run of Jacks, was published. Hugo’s writing led him to be a creative writing teacher for the University of Montana and the head of the creative writing program. He touched the lives of hundreds of students longing to create and celebrate the beauty of poetry, and also the not so beautiful things written about in poetry. Richard Hugo gave suggestions like, “Never write a poem about anything that ought to have a poem written about it.”
It’s important to know that the community of Missoula was deeply influenced by Richard Hugo’s teachings. Those teachings have been passed on from those who learned from him. We, the creative writing students and Aerie students of Big Sky High School, have all have had those teachings passed on to us from Richard Hugo, through our teacher Lorilee Evans-Lynn, who was given the opportunity to study under Mr. Hugo. We are so fortunate that we have a connection with Mr. Hugo. Thank you, Richard Hugo, for passing on to us such a special and wonderful gift, the gift of imagery, the gift of grays and colors, the gift of the senses, and most importantly, the gift of poetry.