Porter Square Books is delighted to welcome Richard Hoffman, author of Remembering the Alchemists and Other Essays, to the store for a conversation with Sven Birkerts. This event will take place on Tuesday, January 17 at 7pm at Porter Square Books (25 White St. Cambridge, MA 02140). RSVP below to let us know you're coming!
Remembering the Alchemists is an intense, passionate, and moving collection of personal essays that never loses sight of the moral issues it raises. At times thoughtful and wise and at other times a cri de cœur, it is held together by the experienced voice of an essayist at the top of his game. Richard Hoffman speaks softly, even reverently, in the presence of art and the natural world, but addressing militarism, war, and violence against children, he speaks with urgency and earnest questioning. Several of these essays ask how it is that we seem to have given up on ourselves, and what it might take to turn the cascading traumas of history into compassion for one another and lessons for the future.
In this award-winning poet’s fourth book of prose, sentences can open into reverie or stop you in your tracks. Whether he is writing about a painting, the work of another writer, a tree that grew in front of his boyhood home, atrocities visited upon children, the superstructure of exploitation and oppression, or the responsibility to be a “good ancestor,” Hoffman pleads with us to move beyond familiar tropes and assumptions and relinquish a learned despondency that ensures a future of more wars, ongoing injustice, and stifled potential. He transforms personal experience not into “the universal,” that categorical abstraction, but into the public, the civic, the ethically useful. These seventeen essays aspire to do more than diagnose our current malaise; they attempt to lift us from it, to clarify our situation, to encourage and inspire. Although Hoffman's candor can at times be shocking, the beauty, intelligence, and bracing clarity of his vision challenges readers to meet the demands of our historical moment with confidence. Insisting that no conclusions are foregone, Remembering the Alchemists is ultimately a book about what it means to hope, to have faith, to see clearly and still insist on joy.
About the Author
Richard Hoffman is the author of nine books, including the celebrated memoirs Half the House and Love & Fury. In addition to the collection Interference and Other Stories, he has published four books of poetry: Without Paradise; Gold Star Road, winner of The Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize and the Sheila Motton Book Award from The New England Poetry Club; Emblem; and Noon until Night, which received the 2018 Massachusetts Book Award for Poetry. His new poetry collection, People Once Real, is forthcoming in April. He is Emeritus Writer in Residence at Emerson College and Nonfiction Editor of Solstice: A Magazine of Diverse Voices
Sven Birkerts is the author of 11 books, most recently Speak, Memory in the IG series and Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet Age. Co-editor of the magazine AGNI, he lives in Amherst.
Interested in joining us? Please RSVP here to let us know you're coming and to receive event updates.