POETRY

One Lark, One Horse: Poems

Farrar. Jul. 2019. 96p. ISBN 9780374226596. $23; ebk. ISBN 9780374720766. poetry.
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This U.S. publication of Hofmann’s fifth collection since 1983—a UK edition appeared in 2018—finds the noted critic and translator pondering the realization that the world he’s known for decades has vanished. Hofmann’s lyrical impressions of places once lived in or passed through, from London to Warsaw to Venice, CA, eschew nostalgic reverie and are instead tempered by a journalistic focus on homely details, whether human-made (“The old bones of sugar refineries”) or natural (“The pocked mud glistening with thousands of alert little mud-crabs”). Sooner or later, dispassion gives way to judgment, and when infused with the poet’s signature candor and wit (“the prettier the place/ the uglier the music”). Hofmann’s “parlous notions, messages, statements, stylings on the edge of extinction” alert us to the consequences of apathy and self-absorption, of allowing our consciousness to be co-opted by the “whatever world of passwords, streaming and clouds.”
VERDICT Hofmann’s condensed, serrated screeds against a gradually dehumanizing culture might seem unduly dyspeptic to some readers, but others will appreciate their unglossed vision and resistance to passive acceptance.

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