Lynn Hoffman's Like Fire Catching Wind is a collection of poetry that has received acclaim from all quarters. Sue Ellen Thompson says, "The settings for the poems in Like Fire Catching Wind range from the kitchen stove to the slopes of the Andes, and in between lie stories about what it means to be a wife, a mother, a daughter, and the granddaughter of Italian immigrants. Surprises abound – read 'Small Talk' and 'The Gift' – as do humor, tenderness, and awe. Lynn Hoffman's poems remind us that the ordinary is as deserving of poetry as the extraorrdinary, that it is only by listening closely to the conversations around us that we can hear our humanity speak."

Like Fire Catching WindDoug Anderson writes that "Lynn Hoffman's poems celebrate the hot ingot of life in what most people mistake as the ordinary – a hotdog vendor infused with Aphrodite, an insectival soldier healing from trauma in a Kafka cage of high tech medicine – you know, the things you think you see, but don't quite? She's got vision and she'll help you see. Keep this book close." And Major Jackson has this to say: "Each poem in Lynn Hoffman's Like Fire Catching Wind makes observation and rememory a ritual of language and reverence. Her poetry stems from the shimmering, mystified world of our quotidian lives, yet is reconstituted with feeling and stabilized by her imaginative powers until we, ourselves, are reborn anew and human."

Lynn Hoffman's writing has been shaped by many inspiring teachers, including Anne Greene at Wesleyan University; Arthur Feinsod at Trinity College; and Steve Straight at Manchester Community College, who introduced her to the art and craft of poetry. Writing has been in her blood from early on. As she says, "Writing is my obsession, though poetry is a relatively new venture, which makes it all the more ironic that my first and only book is a collection of poems. I wondered if I would live long enough to see one of my books in print. So did my parents and siblings. My children just gave up on me. No more wondering.

"I write because I cannot not write – plays, YA novels, and short fiction as well as poems. I don't have rituals or a special room (although I do prefer a Uni-ball Vision Elite Fine Point with blue-black ink). I write at the dining room table, in the thick of family activity, for a few hours after dinner. I love the surprises, the revelations, the meditations, the dialogues, and the debates that writing provokes.

"To support my writing habit, I am the Academic Advisor and Outreach Coordinator for the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, a CREC magnet high school in Hartford, Connecticut. The artistry of my colleagues and the raw talent of our students, combined with my community of family and friends, is the wellspring for my writing."

Click here to read some sample poems.

BOOK STATISTICS

ISBN: 978-0-9762091-8-8
Length: 72 pages
Binding: 6" x 9" trade paperback

 

$16.00US per book


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Tax for CT residents: 6%

 

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THE OLD COUNTRY ALWAYS SITS
AT HER TABLE
 

For my father
in memory of my grandmother

In the garden, she picks plum tomatoes,
summer squash,
dandelions for salad,
traces of pollen smeared on her fingertips,
apron swollen with vegetables
she brings to the kitchen,
garlic simmering in oil,
the sizzle of chopped tomatoes
and minced parsley
cascading from cutting board
to frying pan,
the beginning of a sauce for “little ears,”
her homemade pasta,
cartwheeling and somersaulting
in the metal pot on the stove,
while the skin of a chicken tans
in the rotisserie,
turning evenly on the spit
in lazy revolutions.

“Mangia,” she says,
handing me a bowl of pasta,
the scent of garlic, tomato, and parsley
rising from the steam,
the delicate shavings
of finely grated Parmesan
fattening from the heat of the sauce.
In a second frying pan,
little rectangles of dough inflate,
floating in a sea of oil
like golden-brown rafts
she will powder with sugar
for dessert.

“Mangia!” she says again,
bustling back and forth
from kitchen to dining room
with chicken, bread, salad,
and half a Welch’s jelly glass
of diluted Chianti.

“Marry a nice Italian boy,” she says,
when she finally sits down,
inflecting English words
with Italian accents and rhythms,
even though she left the Old Country
more than seventy years ago,
a ticket in one hand,
the other hand tucked in Papa’s,
who steadied her as the steamship
pitched and rolled
across the Atlantic
like her homemade pasta
pitching and rolling
in the metal pot on the stove.

IN SUMMER

The honeysuckle
behind the Quinn’s garage
was a forbidden fruit
we indulged in
when no one was looking –
except the bees
we shared the nectar with.
Lying on our backs
with a strand of flowers
wrapped tight around our hands
like rosary beads,
we prayed no one would see us
bring the blossoms to our lips
as we thrust our tongues
deep into one flower’s well,
then another and another,
drunk on the vine.

THE GIFT

for Anton

At the escalators
we part company:
I am housewares,
he is sports.

Later, I learn
while I shopped for irons
he priced basketballs
and finally settled on
a Wilson indoor pure pigskin
purchased with money he earned
from shoveling snow in the neighborhood.

He finds me at the checkout.
“I bought a basketball,” he beams,
“the most expensive one they had.”
An air-ball? I wonder, spying his empty hands.
He reads the question in my frown.
“I donated it to the Joy of Giving.”

I look at him
now at eye-level,
my 14-year-old son
who always gave me the impression
he wasn’t listening.

THE HOT DOG VENDOR

Beware!
The hot dog vendor,
who shows up
with the crocuses and robins
every year
looking for the ideal spot
to park her car
and turn a profit,
is back.
She’s at the highway entrance
today.
I watched her
in her skin-tight blue jeans
setting up her stand
as I was turning onto the ramp.
It must have been
too early for a hot dog
with everything-on-it
because I was
the sole witness
to her traffic-halting feat –
the one where she deftly
angles herself into position,
bending from the waist
in those jeans
too-tight-for-a-mannequin,
derrière saluting the air,
legs locked at the knees,
balancing her entire weight
on a pair of stiletto heels
while looking for
some conveniently misplaced
utensil or condiment
in the time it takes
for the line of cars
to take in the view
before the light changes.
Even I’m impressed –
although no one’s biting today,
but that could be the weather.
It’s still too cold
for her skimpy shorts
and bikini tops
that guarantee
a steady line of male customers.
Don’t worry.
She’ll make out
just fine –
despite the weather.
She’s got the jeans,
the light,
the supply of props
she has to bend over for,
and, of course,
all you
meat-eaters.

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