Paperback Price: 15.95
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-938584-16-9

Selected Poem


Cicadas bury themselves in small mouths
of the tree's hollow, lie against the bark-tongues like amulets,

though I am praying I might shake off this skin and be raised
from the ground again. I have nothing

to confess. I don't yet know that I possess
a body built for love. When the wind grazes

its way toward something colder,
you too will be changed. One life abrades

another, rough cloth, expostulation.
When I open my mouth, I am like an insect undressing itself.

Second Empire

Winner of the 2014 Beatrice Hawley Award

“Hofmann is relighting the torch that Crane extinguished when he committed suicide by leaping into the sea; he is taking the sexual longing that permeated Crane and laying it bare.”
Publishers Weekly

“Richie Hofmann’s debut collection, Second Empire, contains the fierce construction of a life saturated with love.”
Kenyon Review

“With what unerring ease Richie Hofmann’s Second Empire unfolds its complex terrains. As they explore the difficult and necessary question of how to both refuse and use the inherited ‘city of our ancestors,’ these taut poems face fear and desire unflinchingly; they are poised, supple, and unnervingly alert.”
—Mary Szybist

“Even more seductive than the preternatural elegance of these poems is the fact that Richie Hofmann inhabits that elegance truly as a style, a way of perceiving the world in which clarity and ornament are the same thing. The poems of Second Empire are written as they must be written, because they are the poems of Richie Hofmann.”
—James Longenbach

“The delicate arc of these poems intimates—rather than tells—a love story: celebration, fear of loss, storm, abandonment, an opening forth. Richie Hofmann disciplines his natural elegance into the sterner recognitions that matter: ‘I am a little white omnivore,’ the speaker of Second Empire discovers. Mastering directness and indirection, Hofmann’s poems break through their own beauty.”
—Rosanna Warren

“[Richie Hofmann] possesses an Old World eye, like a character out of Henry James, raised in our era.”
—Tupelo Quarterly

“Hofmann’s poems are hushed and measured. Recalling in equal parts the work of Elizabeth Bishop and James Merrill, Carl Phillips and Henri Cole, these poems nevertheless stand apart from their influences, painting with delicate strokes, simultaneously concealing and revealing their concerns.”
The American Literary Review

“Hofmann’s speaker seems to give access to an entirely new, even clearer vision. These poems awaken something inherently personal in their reader.”
The Adroit Journal

Second Empire is a stately and elegant volume, nuanced in intention and artful in execution.”
Lambda Literary Review

“Throughout his tour-de-force book of beauty-on-beauty, Hofmann reminds us, too, that tradition and queerness are essentially, experientially, historically bound.”
—Project Muse




  1. Poet to Watch: Richie Hofmann | All Industries One Community - October 28, 2014

    […] critics have called his work “elegant“, which is pretty precise considering how he combines high-art themes of love and […]

  2. Second Empire | Tin House - March 26, 2015

    […] Hofmann’s first collection of poems, Second Empire, is forthcoming from Alice James Books in November 2015.  He is a doctoral student and Creative […]

  3. Poetry Spotlight on Lambda Literary Foundation | Richie Hofmann - November 6, 2015

    […] “At the Palais Garnier” and “Egyptian Cotton”–two poems from Second Empire (available now from Alice James […]

  4. New Books by NER Authors - December 15, 2015

    […] Empire is available from Alice James Books and independent […]