© Author Adventures

Richard Hugo and the University of Montana

Born in Seattle, Washington, award-winning poet and author Richard Hugo (1923-1982) taught at the University of Montana at Missoula, where he spearheaded the creative writing program for nearly twenty years. The university has some of his original works in a special collection designated for scholarly researchers. It is located at the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, University of Montana, 32 Campus Drive, #9936, in Missoula.

The World War II bombardier excelled in combat and, upon returning to civilian life, transformed his survival perspective to writing books and poetry, finding an audience and fan base among US literary scholars and appreciative residents of the Northwest.

“Hugo flew thirty-five combat missions and reached the rank of first lieutenant before leaving the service in 1945. Like other World War II poets, such as James Dickey and Randall Jarrell, he would later recount his experiences in his poetry,” according to poets.org.

The World War II veteran, poet, author, professor, and scholar is buried with a modest grave marker in Missoula, according to https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2012/05/14/at-the-grave-of-richard-hugo.

His Writing

Montana residents take special pride in Richard Hugo’s hometown-centered poem entitled Driving Montana. You can read it and other poetry by the respected writer at https://www.poetryfoundation.org. The collection includes journals, letters, and even fishing gear. (Fishing is a popular pastime in Montana, especially where the three rivers come together in Missoula.)

A bibliography of the author’s books can be found here: https://www.fantasticfiction.com/h/richard-hugo. Perhaps his most popular book is The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing.

Also learn about Hugo House in Seattle through our Washington Author Adventures Trail page.

On the Path

This is the first stop on our Montana Author Adventures Trail. For context, the population of Missoula is approximately 74,000, and the university has approximately 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

Patricia Smart