Selected Poems

Michael Hofmann, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $25 (176p) ISBN 978-0-374-25882-5

Hofmann, internationally famous translator and editor of the anthology Twentieth-Century German Poetry , deservedly won attention in Britain 20 years ago for his own, unsparing, autobiographical sequences, propelled by sad insights and armored with cold detail. One such poem shows romance gone bad in a tiny apartment, “this boxroom shaped like a loaf of bread,” where “all things tend towards the yellow of unlove” and “Familiarity bred mostly the fear of its loss.” Many other poems concern Hofmann’s (apparently cold and workaholic) father, whose vocation “kept us fed till we were big enough to leave the nest.” Such autobiographical verse—indebted, fruitfully, to Robert Lowell—reached one apex in Acrimony (1986) and another, mellower fruition in the U.K.-only Approximately Nowhere (1999), by which time Hofmann had also perfected disillusioned-yet-observant travel poems, setting them in Mexico and Florida as well as within the U.K.: “The nouveau oil building/ spoils the old water town, spook town, old folks’ town.” This second U.S. Selected reintroduces the poet Hofmann to U.S. readers. (May)

Reviewed on: 02/16/2009
Release date: 04/01/2009
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 146 pages - 978-0-571-23774-6
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-0-374-53223-9
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