Michael Hofmann


The Art of Translation No. 6

It’s a little strange to encounter Michael Hofmann in Gainesville. He has taught creative writing for over twenty years at the University of Florida, whose sprawling campus is dominated on its northern edge by a football stadium, the Swamp, where orange-and-blue Gators chomp their unlucky opponents. A short drive from there, you can pick your way past dozens of real gators, dusky green and preternaturally still, in the Paynes Prairie Preserve, which is also home to herds of wild horses and bison. How the bison got to Florida, and why they stayed, must be an interesting story. In one of Hofmann’s few Gainesville poems, “Freebird,” written after his first visit in 1990, he quotes D. H. Lawrence: “One forms not the faintest inward attachment, especially here in America.”