• From the Publisher
January 8, 2023

While Hoff­man’s debut col­lec­tion inter­ro­gat­ed the mythos built around grief, inhab­it­ing an Alas­ka of the mind, her stun­ning sopho­more col­lec­tion When There Was Light looks at the past for what it was.These poems map out a topog­ra­phy where glob­al move­ments of dias­po­ra and war live along­side per­son­al reck­on­ings: a house­’s fore­clo­sure, par­ents’ divorce, the indeli­ble night spent drunk with a best friend “[lying] down inside a chron­ic row of corn.” Here, her father’s voice is the stray dog bark­ing / at the snow, believ­ing the lit­tle straw­ber­ries grow wilder / against a field.” In these pages, she points to Rus­sia and Poland and Ger­many, say­ing, It was / anoth­er time. My peo­ple / anoth­er time. The syn­a­gogues burn decades / of new snow.” The bril­liance of this col­lec­tion illu­mi­nates the rela­tion­ship between mem­o­ry and lan­guage; anoth­er time” means dif­fer­ent, back then, gone and lost to us, and it means over and over, always, again. With this lin­guis­tic dex­ter­i­ty and lyri­cal ten­der­ness, Hoff­man’s work bridges pri­vate and pub­lic his­to­ries, remind­ing us of the years cloaked in shad­ows and the years when there was light.

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