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Jeff Hoffman

Jeff Hoffman

Jeff Hoffman grew up in western Pennsylvania and was educated at the University of New Hampshire, the University of Texas (where he was a Michener fellow at the Michener Center for Writers), and at Stanford University (where he was a Stegner Fellow in poetry). He has also been a Chesterfield screenwriting fellow with Paramount Pictures. His poems have appeared in The New Republic, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, Spinning Jenny, and elsewhere. His short plays have been performed throughout the United States and can be found in anthologies that are available from Vintage and Samuel French. He currently lives in Pasadena, CA.

 

Journal of American Foreign Policy

Journal of American Foreign PolicyJournal of American Foreign Policy

$15.00 paper
ISBN: 978-1-930974-97-5
Publication Date: April 2011
Buy: Amazon.com | spdbooks.org

Winner of the 2010 New Issues Poetry Prize

"The way memory and grief and love compose the stories that enable us to go on living. The toxic mix of innocence and inadvertence, wishfulness and making-do that comes to look like purpose. Which on the scale of nations we call ‘policy.’ These brilliant poems have leverage on it all: micro- and macro- and the sorry, human mess we too often make of both. They also have so masterful a way with idiom and timing that even the sternest insight is leavened with a measure of joy. Tonic intelligence, exhilarating craftsmanship: Jeff Hoffman’s fine first book is a gift to us all."
        —Linda Gregerson, from the Judge’s Citation

"These poems address the deep split between public and private reality. The titles and narratives seem to play with violent events. Names of massacre sites get mixed in with personal retrospect. Public terror blends with private fear. The effect is an ambitious, lyrical evocation of the dream-like state in which so many people apprehend so much of the world. In the end, these are poems about loneliness, language and self-discovery. And this is a fine and ambitious first collection."
        —Eavan Boland

Poem

Handshake Histories

      Summer, 1983

They’re locked together outside a gift shop outside
the Badlands: a statue Indian shaking hands
with a statue cowboy. The Indian’s head feathers

hang down, subdued; the cowboy’s hat tilts up at the front —
invitation, forgiveness. His six-shooter, holstered, juts out
from the wood, and I trace it, guiding two fingers

along a well-worn stream that ends at the Indian’s leather
vest tassels: When I touch them they should be soft
but are not. My family floats somewhere apart from me;

I do not think of my family. The Indian
creeps into the mist of a forest, lifts his hatchet
toward a rustle in the distance. The cowboy kicks

the ribs of his horse, wrecks onward through a blizzard
of dust. And far away the speck of Rushmore’s faces
scoured — by sun, by wind — one layer more lean.