The Poetry Foundation recently chose and featured five poems on their website by Senior Writer-in-Residence Richard Hoffman. The foundation, a Chicago-based independent organization for literary culture, selectively celebrates today’s best poetry, making it accessible and relevant to the public.
The poems “An Old Story,” “Aphrodisia,” “December 31st,” “Long Enough”, and “Winter Song” were selected from his book. Hoffman is also the author of the memoir, Half the House, and collections of poetry, Gold Star Road and Without Paradise. He published a short-story collection, Interference & Other Stories, in 2009. Hoffman was awarded the 2006 Barrow Street Poetry Press Prize and the 2008 Sheila Motton Award from the New England Poetry Club.
In the past Hoffman was featured in Ascent, Harvard Review, Hudson Review, The Literary Review, Poetry and Witness.
Hoffman knew that publication by the Poetry Foundation was a possibility, but his featured poems came as a surprise.
“A friend sent me to a poem on the site she thought I would like by Bob Hicok, who is a favorite of mine,” he said. “And as I was reading it I noticed my picture in the margin.”
Influenced by John Keats’ poems and Robert Frost’s view of poetry Hoffman began writing poems during what he refers to as his “late adolescent post-traumatic project.”
After writing his first poem, Hoffman was relieved by the emotional catharsis that poetry provided. He decided to give himself fully to the art.
“I am still writing because I am still confused. Poems are my way of trying to come to terms with that confusion,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman has stayed connected with a strong literary community through his involvement in PEN New England, a not - for - profit organization for writers.
Being a part of PEN provided an exciting and supportive surrounding for Hoffman. He was promoted to chair of the organization for five years and was responsible for fundraising and working with other art organizations.
“I’m very proud of my time in that role,” he said.
Hoffman remains busy with his plans of a new memoir to be published by Beacon Press. Constantly writing poems, essays, and short stories, Hoffman’s career promises to continue to be a fruitful one.
In regards to advising students who want their work published, Hoffman said that those who to be publsihed authors should find peers for adherence.
“It’s more important to find other poets and writers for mutual support when you’re starting out than to worry too much about publishing … If you want to get your work out there, go ahead and do it any way you can. There’s no prescribed path.”
Literary consultant for authors in both the U.S. and the U.K., Thomas D’Evelyn is an admirer of Hoffman’s work.
“[Hoffman’s] best poetry makes you forget it’s poetry … Partly it’s his control of syntax and line, partly it’s the story-telling voice, and the sound, almost a whisper, rather like his own speaking voice,” said D’Evelyn in an interview with the Beacon.
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