A number of the poems in this collection by Michael Hofmann show him returning to the subject of his father, the German novelist Gert Hofmann, whose relationship with his son was also the principal subject of his celebrated 1986 collection, Acrimony, and of a memorable television documentary that appeared at that time. In 1993, however, Gert Hofmann died, and the poems written since then replace the combativeness and acerbity of the earlier book with a more complex tone: frankness and factuality are still important elements, but they are tempered now by grief, pity, pain and bemusement. Readers will note other differences, too: among them, a greater sense of formal freedom, a more flowing and abundant style of poetic discourse, an ever-sharper receptiveness to brilliant and brittle observations, and an increasing variety of tones, from the droll to the remorseful and the delirious. Above all, they will be delighted to learn that Michael Hofmann, whose outstanding talents were evident from his very first collection has found ways of putting them at the service of a more mature, profound and revelatory view of the world.
Michael Hofmann was born in 1957 in Freiburg, Germany, and came to England in 1961. He has published four volumes of poems and won a Cholmondeley Award and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize for poetry. His translations have won many awards, including the Independent's Foreign Fiction Award, the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the P.E.N./Book of the Month Club Translation Prize. His reviews and criticism are gathered in Behind the Lines (2001). Ashes for Breakfast - his translations of the poetry of Durs Grunbein - appeared in 2005, and his Selected Poems was published in 2008.
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