From Poetry Magazine

Listen to the Michael Hofmann Effect

By Lindsay Garbutt

Michael Hofmann c. 1981 Michael Hofmann in a photobooth c. 1981

"I have to admit I felt stricken by them," recalls James Lasdun of his first encounters with Michael Hofmann's poetry. "I could see at once that they were amazingly good, but also that they were good in ways that were going to have a calamitous effect on all my assumptions about poetry." Lasdun's essay, which appeared in Poetry's March 2013 issue, reflects on his budding friendship with Hofmann in the early eighties. The piece is an excerpt from The Palm Beach Effect: Reflections on Michael Hofmann, edited by André Naffis-Sahely and Julian Stannard, and recently published by CB editions.

A launch for the book was held not too long ago and the editors kindly offered us a recording of the event. Listen to the link above or visit our SoundCloud page to hear contributors Robin Robertson, Stephen Romer, James Lasdun, Sarah Maguire, and George Szirtes relate their favorite anecdotes and poems. The second half of the recording is a conversation with the inimitable Hofmann himself.

If you're more of a reader than a listener, you can read an excerpt from the book and view the table of contents here.

Looking for some of Hofmann’s own work? Check out our archive. Hofmann’s first appearance in our pages was “White Noise,” published in May 1982:

It blows your mind,

the radio, or whatever piece of sonic equipment
you keep along with the single white rose
and the spiked mirror in your monochrome room…
I’ve seen it through the open door sometimes.

You hoover twice a week, and in my eyes
that amounts to a passion for cleanliness.
The vacuum, its pre-war drone in the corridor.
Thin and snub-nosed, a gas-mask on a stick.

The rest of the poem can be found here.

Wonder why and how Hofmann translates? Keep an eye out for his behind-the-scenes look at the “guilty business" in our September 2013 issue.

Originally Published: July 17th, 2013