C.E Hoffman’s chapbook collection Blood, Booze and Other Things in Nature is definitely a must read if you like your poetry vulnerable and thought provoking . This collection is raw and in your face and doesn’t shy away from telling you the harsh truth about the world but the poet does in a way that’s witty and full of dark humor. The poet addresses complex issues of mental health, love, sex, parenthood, and poverty. They address the inequalities that hit you in the gut and make you question the status quo.. I’ve never read a poetry collection like this before. I’ll talk about 4 poems from the book that I really liked. Their poetry feels like thoughts I’ve had that I have been too afraid to write down; much less share with the world.
The first poem is “Bloom (Blow Job) “and I really liked how this poem transitioned from giving a blowjob to other things in the poet’s life. I interpreted as things to talk about or are talked about after a blowjob. The line in this poem that really resonated with me was “you wipe spit from your cheek when/your lover says it was the hardest they came in their life, and/you believe them “(Hoffman). I’ve had this said to me quite a few times and my friend has as well. It’s a common line that men say to their partners/flings. Yes, MEN, we do talk about these things.
Another poem that resonated with me was “Magnificent Shits” in which the poet talks about how they imagine their unborn child to be like and how much they already love them . I resonated with this poem because as a parent myself, I’ve had similar thoughts. I resonated with the lines, “But no matter where you go/forever drives your soul/YOU ARE A MASTERPIECE that shits and smiles and needs and creates and kisses/explores and speeds “(Hoffman). These capture that feeling of loving your child and acknowledging their humanness.
Another poem I really liked from this collection is “Prenatal Yoga aka Relearning Breath”. It deals with complex issues of “passing” and even deals with the poet dealing with privilege. The line that I really liked from this poem was, “And I know it’s strange to find peace in a space of appropriation/’cause 8 outta 9 of our faces are white/ so when it comes to “passing”/ I really can’t talk, can I? “(Hoffman) As a woman of color who’s spent most of her time in predominantly white spaces, I understand this sentiment of feeling like an “other” or “out of place”. Often at times, I try to blend in and 9 out of 10 times, I am able to without incident. However, there is that 10 % where I feel uncomfortable because something unintentionally prejudiced is said or a wrong assumption is made about me.
New Moon in Cancer (Radical Honesty 101) was my favorite poem in this book. I interpreted this poem as the anxiety of the poet written in verse. I loved how honest Hoffman is in addressing everything that goes through their mind openly talking about their mental health, relationships, and what it’s like to be a writer in today’s environment of instagram, twitter, etc. One of my favorite lines from this poem was, “I don’t believe in The One./I’ve initiated most of my break-ups, cheated on basically/even in open relationships-/Shit. Maybe I just suck at this.” )Hoffman. I feel like Hoffman basically describes almost all of my romantic relationships and the thoughts I have about that part of my life. Examining and deconstructing my relationships this past year, I’ve often thought, “man, maybe I just suck at this, let me quit while I haven’t slashed anyone’s tires yet”(haha). The other line that I really liked from this poem was “Honestly I’m sick of wanting to get better, dying to be better, trying to do better than whatever I am or can” (Hoffman). Being in this recovery journey from my BPD feels like that sometimes. I have a strict routine I adhere to, read so many books about BPD, monitor my moods and honestly, it gets tiresome at times. Like Hoffman, I get sick of trying to “be better” and I often wonder when I can stop being so vigilant and rigid in everything I do. When can I say I’m finally better and can stop doing so much?
Blood, Booze, and other things in Nature is definitely the poetry collection for you if you’ve ever felt like a pariah, like an outcast, like an outsider in this world that tries to tone you down for being too crazy, too loud, and too bizarre for it. Reading this poetry collection is the medicine you need for that beautiful and chaotic soul of yours that refuses to conform to the norms and expectations of normalcy in this patriarchal society.
Below is a link to the book:
Don’t believe me? Here are other testimonials about the book and the author:
Praise for Blood, Booze, and Other Things in Nature:
This book resonates with anyone who’s ever called a crisis line and had them respond, “Oh wow that’s a lot.” This chapbook isn’t a cocktail. It’s a shot.
This is no nipple-slip, no wardrobe malfunction. This is deliberate, personal exposure, revealing heart, head, and the wounds of living. The battle songs, the laments, and the healing gather here.
-Neil S Reddy
This collection is a dirty meditation, a longing for escape, an ecstatic fuck you to the traps and ties of societal expectation. A delightful, messy romp through the entrails of the heart.
This is the kind of writing that inspires fandom.
-Alexandine Ogundimu, Filth Magazine
Praise for C E Hoffman:
C E Hoffman is a fearless writer.
-Jack Wang, author of We Two Alone and winner of the Danuta Gleed Literary Award
The human spirit remains fresh-voiced, optimistic and youthful in Hoffman’s imaginative writing.
-Martin Millar, author of Lonely Werewolf Girl and winner of the World Fantasy Award
Hoffman’s writing style reminds one of Burroughs at his most straightforward or Irvine Welsh at his strangest, but with a presentation dominated primarily by women and queer characters- a refreshing change in this particular milieu.…Hoffman is definitely a writer to watch for, and I look forward to what they give us next.
-Justin Bookworm, Razorcake Issue #123
Sex and the City meets Black Mirror.
-Alana M Kelley, Maudlin House Magazine