"Hoffman’s use of language unfurls questions, coincidence, dreams that point to “stardust” (transcendent, spiritual meaning) in the mundane, sometimes not so pretty, peat of a life. The effect feels like trodding on a spongy buoyancy then meeting a spark that connects these realms."

-Amazon Review

 

 

Light, take us beyond/this ordinary day reads the opening line, and it’s an invitation as much as an invocation. In these mysterious, musical, and compelling poems, Alicia Hoffman makes the reader see differently, makes us rediscover the strangeness of what we know. Ranging from Pennsylvania to Alaska to Costa Rica to Spain, she restores natural magic to the large and ordinary world, where Earth tilts,/blooms sun, where doomed teenage lovers can say, I love you/ like salt. She understands artifice, its necessity and its deceptions, in emotion as well as in art. Her language is itself a wonderful discovery. Like the woman in “Self-Portrait,” She balances marbles – round/ orbs of words – on her tongue and bites. The risk of pain accompanies every pleasure. There are many rewards, such as a sharply tender memory of peeling paint stained skin from her workingman father’s back: like old veneer, the outer/albumen of egg or the riveting mediation on loss, “A Forgotten Song,” which begins with a funeral and ends with survival, the “vertigo of standing,” feet on the Atlantic shore, as the tide comes and recedes/ the sand from underneath like a magician’s table/cloth trick. Voila. Hoffman walks the reader down this dizzying tightrope with her, enticed by visions, refusing to give in to them, persistently pitting literature against its own easy conventions. These poems celebrate the difficult. They trace the complexities of the heart, what could be within what and neither yields: give/praise/for/such/mirac/ulous/enjamb/ment the poet tells us. This is a book of marvelous and hard-won praise. 


~ Stan Sanvel Rubin

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Alicia Hoffman’s poems seduce us with the pleasures of life looked at with awe and wonder. She praises the virtues of awareness of the body and of the home. Her new poems are wonderfully compassionate. In her great title poem, “Railroad Phoenix," she writes an extravagant new poetry in her search for the patterns and connections of the world: “Wolf-dog, / come to me. // Wolf-dog, / know me / now.” This is poetry that could heal a heart, this is poetry that embodies hope, and this is poetry that rewards the restless quest to plumb the stories of our living hours.

—David Biespiel, author of Charming Gardeners

Surprising at every turn, melodic in a sharp register, self-revealing without bathos, Alicia Hoffman’s Railroad Phoenix is inventive in ways far beyond that of so many books. The brilliant long title poem itself employs a host of dazzling tropes as it sustains a headlong desire for understanding the present moment by finding sidelong methods for examining the hidden past. Railroad Phoenix asks to be read with the attention we might give a new piece of music that quickly entrances by enlivening familiar structure with innovative sound.

—Kevin Clark, author of Self-Portrait with Expletives

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