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Michael Hofmann

Michael Hofmann

Michael Hofmann was born in Germany and moved to England in 1961. Educated at Oxford and Cambridge, he has worked as a freelance writer, translator, and critic since 1983. His most recent poetry collection One Lark, One Horse was released in 2018. Nights in the Iron Hotel, his first book of poems, appeared in 1984. He is an influential and award-winning translator of writers such as Franz Kafka, Joseph Roth, and Herta Müller. In 2008 he was Poet in Residence in Queensland. Michael Hofmann's Selected Poems appeared with FSG and Faber. His Gottfried Benn translations, Impromptus, was released in 2013.

Michael Hofmann reviews ‘36 Ways of Writing a Vietnamese Poem’ by Nam Le

April 2024, no. 463 25 March 2024
Even in his first publication, the seven short stories of the rightly celebrated The Boat (2008), Nam Le was perhaps always most interested in creating an aura of violent unpredictability. He withheld consistency, offered cruxes, hit the reader with a blizzard of bold plots in settings so varied as to be practically contradictory – Hiroshima, Medellin, New York City, a fishing town on the Queens ... (read more)

'Judith Wright Arts Centre' a poem by Michael Hofmann

November 2009, no. 316 01 November 2009
My office! My office at the Judy! The Judy at the head of Fortitude Valley – Happy Valley! – the ex-tea and -coffee warehouse, but reformed, reformed! The industrial brick carcass full of arty bees, sphinx of a building couchant on the crest of the hill, the infra-red elevator mysteriously redolent of cloves, restaurant smuggled into one corner, café in another, and the whole dipped in chocol ... (read more)

Michael Hofmann reviews 'Wifedom: Mrs Orwell’s invisible life' by Anna Funder

July 2023, no. 455 26 June 2023
Wifedom is both an immovable and an irresistible book, an object and a force. Anna Funder, the author some years back of the bestselling Stasiland (2003), has written another great and important narrative of oppression and covert suppression, in this case of the first Mrs George Orwell, Eileen O’Shaughnessy (1905–45). The oppression and suppression are or were the work of her liberal and emanc ... (read more)

Michael Hofmann reviews 'The Uncollected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick' edited by Alex Andriesse

September 2022, no. 446 25 August 2022
The American poet Robert Lowell (1917–77), I don’t suppose, intended to eclipse his contemporaries, competitors, rivals, wives, any more than in one of his poems the new esplanade along the Charles River intended to stamp down ‘grass and growth’, as he rather vaguely puts it, with ‘square stone shoes’, but it’s what he did. Now, in the almost half a century since his passing, and the ... (read more)

'Paradise', a poem by Michael Hofmann

May 2022, no. 442 23 April 2022
The joy of rhizomes.Four makes of bamboovolunteering everywhere,a kind of supergrass.‘Hello, it’s me.’A snitch as tall as a tree.Whenever I pass that way,I have at them with the hatchet.Two minutes of violent exercise.They are the isolate stiff hairson my Eczema Reversion Lawn@ where the weeds have cross-wiredthe surface and depth-charged the rootswith their little water-barrel reservoirs.I ... (read more)

'The Resident', a new poem by Michael Hofmann

December 2019, no. 417 22 November 2019
We have the White Louse. His name is Donal Dump. He is the Resident, and he heads the Dump maladministration, squillionaires and a sprain-surgeon, a Cabinet of all the talons. They call him a racial spigot. He sees it as he calls it, which makes him spigot. He squitters Twitter on the shitter, and we titter after. He only squeaks for us. He is our mouth-squeeze. He has a background in constriction ... (read more)

'Cyndi Lauper', a new poem by Michael Hofmann

December 2018, no. 407 27 November 2018
June 22 And many happy returns of the day to Cyndi Lauper, 65,once said to ‘dress funny’ and her voice likened to ‘rat’ (or ‘rat’s’),singing the song ‘Money changes everything’, like a coarsened Bowie,and to the nameless, ageless rat featherbedded in a mysteriously malfunctioningIndian ATM machine in over a million mostly shredded rupees. Michael Hofmann ... (read more)

Michael Hofmann reviews 'Ted Hughes' by Jonathan Bate

January-February 2016, no. 378 17 December 2015
I can readily see that I am not the intended reader for The Unauthorised Life of Ted Hughes. Born in the year his first book of poems came out (The Hawk in the Rain, 1957); made to read Hughes at school (I preferred Sylvia Plath); a graduate of the same university (Cambridge); my books published by the same publisher (Faber), and sharing (if at all) the same bookstore shelves (between Heaney and H ... (read more)
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