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Selected Poems


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Michael Hofmann is the author of five books of poems and many translations from the German. He edited Twentieth-Century German Poetry (FSG, 2006) and lives in London and in Gainesville, Florida.


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) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"Hofmann's is one of the definitive bodies of work of the last half century, as redolent of the mood, mores and matter of its time as any I know." --Stephen Knight, The Times Literary Supplement"These penetrating and disquieting poems should cement Hofmann's reputation as more than just a prize-winning translator." --Nichi Hodgson, New Statesman"A Michael Hofmann poem is now a rare, strange, much valued item . . . One review a long time ago talked of Hofmann's 'rainy day voice.' Yes, it is that, but it is a princely voice, too. Prince of nerves and manners, precise poet of desolations and furies--Hofmann's rainy day is as authentic and valuable as the weather we go out in." --George Szirtes, The Guardian"Easily among the best and most adventurous poets of his generation." --Dennis O'Driscoll, Thumbscrew"[Hofmann's] poem-biographies of Crassus and Marvin Gaye are true originals, in line of descent from his master, Robert Lowell, and the . . . recent work indicates, hearteningly, a poet unafraid of change or chance." --Sean O'Brien, The Sunday Times (London)"For anyone who remembers the poems of Michael Hofmann making their first appearances in magazines in the early 1980s, his has been one of the defining voices of the past two decades . . . It is wonderful to be reminded by this Selected of just how good, how original a poet Hofmann has always been--and to feel all over again the surprise and pleasure that new readers will feel, when they discover his wit and effrontery." --PBS Bulletin, Special Commendation

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