Poetry | 2009 | 74 pages | $15.00 | ISBN: 978-0-9789262-9-8
ONE is necessarily engaged, engagingly necessary. As so much contemporary American poetry takes the witless witticism of “no ideas except as refracted in other ideas” to its logical conclusion, using Stevens as willful instrument to hollow out Dickinson’s interiority, flying as far as possible from Whitman, Williams and Pound in some desperately whimsical, whimsically desperate attempt to escape (still, at this late date!) 20th century modernisms, it’s wonderfully refreshing to treat oneself to the singular drama in Jen Hofer’s open field verse, refractory through purposive theater, flicking with deconstruction, declension and interrogation. Her sage ‘insistence’ flares into the continuous present that is our own.
— Sesshu Foster
Now halting, feeling their way, now informative, now quoting — Hofer’s lines roam in search of a language that could grapple with our multiple realities, including the delusional one of the Iraq war. A great cry of: What can be done?
— Rosemarie Waldrop
As a title, One—like war—insists on singularity. Yet One is filled with many: quotations become limbs from dismembered newspaper articles, “Atomic Noir” film dialogue and song lyrics which slowly bleed into Jen Hofer’s own poetic interrogations, reports and outcries. It is as though the viscera once confined to our separate bodies is everywhere, staining everything into a charnel unity which Hofer must search and identify. Still, One is also “won” and in that “victory” impoverished to a pun’s faint echo, we see the remains of what was lost. Hofer’s poems are battlefield photographs from a war waged with language. Look and listen carefully.
Jen Hofer’s second collection, One, engages the shock and awe of war and language. This is a visceral work that explores how death and destruction affect the body, how the poet transforms this trauma into song, and how song re-imagines the language of war that bombs our perceptions. Hofer’s work combines politics, journalism, and abstract lyricism into a postmodern poetics of witness...
—Review by Craig Santos Perez for Zoland Poetry