To Live like a Bird
- Approximately Nowhere by Michael Hoffman
Faber, 77 pp, £7.99, April 1999, ISBN 0 571 19524 5
Michael Hofmann’s poetry is a lament for a lost world. Some years ago, in an article on Frank O’Hara, he talked about New York no longer being the thrilling place it had been in the days when O’Hara and the gang could go downtown to the Blue Note and hear John Coltrane or uptown to hear Billie Holiday. This kind of nostalgia can be tiresome: better for each generation to invent a new idea of the new – to enlarge the temple. In his poems, Hofmann has found a way to do this. In each, no matter how short, one feels the pull of three places – Germany, England and America – and two languages.