Second Empire by Richie Hofmann

second empire

I read a lot of poetry (yes, we exist) and I was drawn to this book by its striking cover. I had not heard of Mr Hofmann before but was intrigued. He is a very good poet, but I do have some issues with his poetry….

I accidentally ended up reading this book almost three times – by that I mean, I read about two-thirds of it, and got distracted by life, and when I went back to read it, I wanted to read it through, as I felt it befitted that.

Hofmann has a very clean, very precise air to his poetry, which is something that more poets could do with observing – there is not a word wasted. He is a very pastoral poet, enchanted with myth and history.

I feel he is best when he is emotionally involved with the poem, and if there is a problem with this collection, it is the lack of emotional connection I feel with it. On the back cover, Rosanna Warren talks about “the delicate arc of these poems intimates – rather than tells – a love story” and I feel that’s part of the problem, because when he owns up to the emotions shrouding the images, eschewing the feeling that he mentions in ‘Description’ – “Once description was all I thought I needed / to bridge things” – there are beautiful moments of clarity that the poems crystallize around, such as, from ‘Amor Vincit Omnia’ – “There was nothing to do but memorize / each other”.

Despite the restraint, which at times grows to be its own character in this book (and at times turning it into something more interesting – the game of what’s not being said), but at other times merely feels like a lack, this largely free verse collection is excellent, and better than a lot of first collections out there. A poet to watch, certainly.



You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

3 thoughts on “Second Empire by Richie Hofmann

  1. Pingback: Book Reviews | SVM & TB Stories

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