Richard Hugo was an American poet with trout, salmon and steelhead on the brain. According to writer Michael Checchio, no American poet has ever described trout and salmon, “more convincingly and beautifully.” In his essay, Their Famous Names: Richard Hugo’s Rivers of Words, Checchio takes readers on a tour of Hugo’s world—the streams, the rivers, small-town bar rooms and, of course, the fish that live so vibrantly in his work.

“Beside every great trout river there is a bar. And the great poet Dick Hugo seems to have hoisted a glass in all of them.
Alexander Pope famously said, “The proper study of Mankind is Man.” For Richard Hugo, it was trout. Hugo had a failsafe writing method. He would throw his fishing rod into the back of his car, take off for the farthest trout stream from where he lived, spend the day hooking fish and then piss away the evening in the nearest tavern hoisting a few with the locals. Then he would go home and make up a poem about the experience.”

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