A Hundred Lovers: Poems
Author: Richie Hofmann
Publisher: Knopf (2022)
A Hundred Lovers is a catalog of encounters, sublime, steamy, and frank. Inspired by French autofiction, the poems feel both sharp and diaristic; their lyrical, intimate world brings us everyday scenes imbued with sex. "Eros enters, where shame had lived," the speaker observes, as the poems explore risk and appetite, promiscuity and violence, and, in the wake of his marriage, questions about monogamy and desire.
Bringing us both the carefully knotted silk ties of the wedding pair and their undress in a series of Hockney-like interiors where passion colors every object, Hofmann speaks plainly of the saliva, tears, and guts of the carnal, just as he does of the sublime in works of art. A Hundred Lovers invites us to consider our own memories of pleasure and pain, which fill the generous white space the poet leaves open to us between his ravishing lines.
"A book of love poems that consciously and subversively hearken back to Shakespeare’s sonnets, marking Hofmann’s position as one of our necessary poets of erotic desire. These short lyrics come together in their discussion of geography, painting, sculpture, and classical music as if to say that love (that queer love!) is indeed as immortal as a poem. Or as Hofmann himself writes, ‘There is so much to say. It may take until night.’”
“This is a book you take in with your feeling body; it’s full of textures and scents, redolent with music and art. The speaker of these poems, hungry for beauty and brutality, seeks out connection while haunted by the inviolable singleness of the self. One finds an almost lost tradition channeled in these brilliant poems, and also a sensibility that makes tradition startlingly new.”
“Richie Hofmann chisels the excess away, brings to light splendid language. His formal intelligence is ravishing, restless. Crackling with vows and disavowals, studded with keen and elegant imagery, simultaneously raw and curated, his poems remind us the flesh is as curious as the mind. A Hundred Lovers is an unflinching and radiant book.”
–Eduardo C. Corral