West Hartford & Litchfield County Poets Join Lineup March 10 @ Fiddleheads

January 31, 2007

Two more poets have joined the lineup
of poets & writers
reading Sat., March 10 @ Fiddleheads Natural Supermarket.

They are Lynn Hoffman and Davyne Verstandig.
Plz see bios, etc., below. Poems from Verstandig coming soon.

  • Fiddleheads Natural Supermarket
  • Visit the book section at Fiddlheads,
    kiosks and shelves serviced by
    the Fabulous Rainy Faye.

  • Rainy Faye Bookstore & Gallery
  • Grand opening events at Fiddleheads begin Feb. 3.

    Hoffman and Verstandig join a jazz combo
    and poets & writers
    David Cappella, Jim Scrimgeour, Tom Hazuka, Ravi Shankar,
    Elizabeth Thomas and Ron Winter.

    See prior posts including, Marine Goes Veggie.

    —–

    Davyne Verstandig is a lecturer in English and Creative Writing at the UConn Torrington Campus.

    She is also director of the Litchfield County Writers Project.

    She has published two books of poetry, Pieces of the Whole and Provisions and has performed improvisational work “composing on the tongue” while painting simultaneously. She recently served on the board of Touchstone, a residential treatment facility for female juvenile offenders in Litchfield, Connecticut.

    She is currently a Justice of the Peace.

    Her website,

  • Davyne Verstandig
  • —–

    New Poetry By Lynn Hoffman

    AT THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES

    I’m not the only person to notice
    the foursome who can’t manage
    to complete a sentence without the “F” word
    while they stand in line to renew their licenses.
    I’m waiting for my daughter
    to return from her driving test
    when I hear someone say,
    “Come on oh-vuh here,
    Baby!
    and sit on my face.
    I’ll show you how it’s done,”
    which even attracts the attention
    of the workers behind the counter
    who’ve trained themselves only to look up
    to call the next person in line.

    My daughter returns with a smile and good news.
    Just as we take our seats near the camera,
    one of the foursome sits down in front of us.
    Seconds later, he’s joined by his girl friend,
    who parks her behind on his empty lap.
    Their chatter resumes
    at a decibel level no one can avoid.
    Suddenly, the girl friend shrieks,
    “Yo! Don’t let your ding-dong
    harden on my ass!”
    which takes me back to the cereal aisle
    at Stop & Shop,
    somewhere between Cap’n Crunch and Cocoa Puffs,
    when my soon-to-be husband and I
    were seized with an urge
    to kiss –
    not a peck on the cheek,
    or even the mouth,
    but a deep-throated, tongue-thrashing kiss
    in the middle of the aisle
    on the day senior-citizens got their discount,
    when a sudden, insistent finger
    tapped me on the shoulder
    and a frail voice scolded,
    “That’s disgusting!”
    to which I sneered,
    “No one forced you to watch!”
    as we completed the act he so rudely interrupted
    while the poor man
    hobbled toward the checkout
    with his box of Bran in one hand,
    his container of Metamusil in the other.

    From:
    Like Fire Catching Wind
    Antrim House
    ISBN 978-0-9762091-8-8

    Lynn Hoffman’s Like Fire Catching Wind is a collection of poetry that has received acclaim from all quarters.

    Sue Ellen Thompson says, “The settings for the poems in Like Fire Catching Wind range from the kitchen stove to the slopes of the Andes, and in between lie stories about what it means to be a wife, a mother, a daughter, and the granddaughter of Italian immigrants. Surprises abound – read ‘Small Talk’ and ‘The Gift’ – as do humor, tenderness, and awe. Lynn Hoffman’s poems remind us that the ordinary is as deserving of poetry as the extraoraordinary, that it is only by listening closely to the conversations around us that we can hear our humanity speak.”

    Doug Anderson writes that “Lynn Hoffman’s poems celebrate the hot ingot of life in what most people mistake as the ordinary – a hotdog vendor infused with Aphrodite, an insectival soldier healing from trauma in a Kafka cage of high tech medicine – you know, the things you think you see, but don’t quite? She’s got vision and she’ll help you see. Keep this book close.”

    And Major Jackson has this to say: “Each poem in Lynn Hoffman’s Like Fire Catching Wind makes observation and rememory a ritual of language and reverence. Her poetry stems from the shimmering, mystified world of our quotidian lives, yet is reconstituted with feeling and stabilized by her imaginative powers until we, ourselves, are reborn anew and human.”

    Lynn Hoffman has studied with Steve Straight at Manchester Community College and attributes much of her success as a writer to him. Writing has been in her blood from early on. As she says, “Writing is my obsession, though poetry is a relatively new venture, which makes it all the more ironic that my first and only book is a collection of poems. I wondered if I would live long enough to see one of my books in print. So did my parents and siblings. My children just gave up on me. No more wondering.

    “I write because I cannot not write – plays, YA novels, and short fiction as well as poems. I don’t have rituals or a special room (although I do prefer a Uni-ball Vision Elite Fine Point with blue-black ink). I write at the dining room table, in the thick of family activity, for a few hours after dinner. I love the surprises, the revelations, the meditations, the dialogues, and the debates that writing provokes.

    “To support my writing habit, I am the Academic Advisor and Outreach Coordinator for the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, a CREC magnet high school in Hartford, Connecticut. The artistry of my colleagues and the raw talent of our students, combined with my community of family and friends, is the wellspring for my writing.”


    Like Fire Catching Wind review

    Like Fire Catching Wind
    Lynn Hoffman
    Antrim House 2006
    http://www.antrimhousebooks.com
    ISBN- 978-009762091-8-8
    $16.00

    By JON ANDERSEN
    Special to The Cool Justice Report

    EDITOR’S NOTE: This review is available for reprint courtesy of The Cool Justice Report, http://cooljustice.blogspot.com

    Someone is going to use the word transcendent or some variation of that misty word to praise Lynn Hoffman’s poetry – poetry that moves through history, through check-out lines, through the juvenile court system in Connecticut to the mountains of Colombia and the theology beyond.

    But let me state right now that I will be willing to debate anyone who dares try to peg Like Fire Catching Wind with transcendence, even if it’s Harold Bloom himself. (Maybe especially if it’s Harold Bloom. Hoffman’s poems do not attempt to levitate over her own or anyone else’s reality – they dive into life as it is; they demand that we see the magic of everyday living in all its bizarre pain and joy.

    These are poems of an engaged, reflective life. The quest never leads to spiritual flight; rather we are asked to face up. In the poem “Choosing,” Hoffman addresses a mother who has abandoned her child for life with a lover in Vegas – a life of addiction and squalor. Even trying to earn redemption – conquering the booze and squalor, trying to reconnect – the mother must realize that her children “may not want to let go/ of the red-hot rage/that’s been seething inside/ever since the day/you chose him.” The devastating line break at the beginning of the stanza reminds us that abandoned children will hold onto their rage as tenaciously as they once tried to hold on to their parents.

    If there is no transcendence in Hoffman’s poems, there is plenty of room for inspired transformation. “Reversal” is brilliant poem that – in a public wrestling match –takes on all the boys “who think nothing/of pinning a girl/to a wall/or a mattress/ or the front seat/ of your Daddy’s Beamer” and forces them “to face us/and the possibility/that today/just might be the day/we take you down/ and your all-male world/ because you just can’t handle/ being pinned/ by a girl/ in public.”

    In the very next poem, “Small Talk,” the voice of the poem is that of a cashier moved to thank an older man who’s turned out to be a World War II veteran. In the moment before we realize this gratitude with the cashier, the man with his “deep-creased face/and milk blue eyes” adds “I fought with the Nazis.” We think we know what’s happening when we’re standing in the check out line with groceries, but we don’t. The poem ruptures the still surface to make us face reality. History – which we conceive of as abstract, cut off from our own reality – is grinding along right with us — and because of us. “Small Talk,” indeed.

    Like Fire Catching Wind is delightful in its authentic range. There are so many wonderful and galvanizing surprises. If you’re about to lay down any of your hard-earned dollars for a book of poems, make sure you put sixteen bucks toward this one, and read it! As Doug Anderson wrote “she’ll help you see.” And I’ll end on this little teaser – you’ll never experience the Department of Motor Vehicles the same way again.

    Jon Andersen is the author of Stomp and Sing (Curbstone 2005), a book of image-studded lyrics of work, love, family, and class struggle. His poems have appeared in numerous publications, including The Cafe Review, Connecticut Review, The Progressive, and Rattle. He teaches, along with his wife and fellow writer Denise Abercrombie, at E.O. Smith High School in Storrs.

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