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Michael Hofmann, a much-praised contributor to Poetry Introduction 5, was born in Germany in 1957 but brought up in Britain. Nights in the Iron Hotel, which won the author a Cholmondeley Award in 1984, is his first full-length volume. Hofmann’s poems are marked by a classical authority, a formidable ironic intelligence, wide-ranging subject matter and a unique tone of voice. ‘You move the fifty-seven muscles it takes to smile,’
Hofmann writes in a poem whose subject is sexual tension – and immediately the reader recognises a world in which emotions are not the usual poetic counters but something truer, more complex and more painful. This quality of disenchantment is served by a deceptively laconic style of measured brio.
Hofmann's is one of the definitive bodies of work of the last half-century, as redolent of the mood, mores and matter of its time as any that I know.
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