Poem of the Week | January 08, 2012

We’re thrilled to kick off 2012 with a poem by Richie Hofmann from our new issue, 34.4, which just arrived in our offices. Richie Hofmann was born in 1987.  His poetry appears or is forthcoming in The Antioch Review, Southwest Review, The New Criterion, Indiana Review, Literary Imagination, and other journals.  A recipient of the Academy of American Poets Prize and the 2011 AWP Intro Journal Award, he currently teaches writing at Emory University, where he is a doctoral candidate in English Literature.

Author’s Note:

In my poetry as well as in my life, I feel pulled by competing forces: the simple and the ornate, the naked and the elegant—classical purity on one hand and extravagance on the other.  I want these sonnet-like poems to quietly but intently explore, with the fractured logic and sudden turns of traditional sonnets, these tensions in life and language.  They are tensions I see in the ocean, in the patterned breaking of waves on the shore, where many of these poems take place.  I also hear them in Benjamin Britten’s music.  The “sea interludes” included here are part of a series of six self-portraits as the musical interludes from his opera, Peter Grimes.

Sea Interlude: Dawn

The smoke-green mist leans into the rocks
where fishermen whistle and mend their nets,
rehearsing the rituals of brotherhood
before the luster of sky and sun,
which flashes against the pale horizon
with the oily turbulence of a swarm
of herring.  Above, the familiar gulls, bright
and remorseless, shriek the news of the world.
The ocean gurgles a dead language.
Standing at the water’s edge, I watch myself
loosen into the brief, exquisite blur
of a morning gone adrift, like Antinoüs
nearly naked in the cold, turning away from love
toward what he knows, even then, is loss.