May 1, 2023
UNDERSHORE is author Kelly Hoffer's first book of poems, and is the winner of the Lightscatter Press Prize, awarded in 2022 and chosen by judge Diana Khoi Nguyen. Alive with formal daring, the poems in UNDERSHORE examine the speaker’s ongoing grief following the loss of her mother. The book engages the botanical world, shorelines, desire, intimacy, and grief, all to reveal the unexpected and inevitable way these concerns merge into one another through language’s alchemy.
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my mother sitting at a table opening
bread her fingers moving with a bitter
hiccup. the table shines under the torn food
she breaks open for
me and she pulls a hyacinth from the center—
her breeding seed, counting each piece
my eyes shine with bluepetals and
she asks me if
my brothers are all right if my sister
is still afloat in the giant sad sea
of losing a lover to heroin.
She asks of her own
eyes, a vision of a voided ceiling
leaving no hem to wipe up our puke
no string for our hair.
she asks me nothing of myself only
if I am eating and I say
from UNDERSHORE. First published as “The Visitation,” in Ugly Duckling Presse’s
Second Factory, Issue 1, May 2020.
About the Author
Kelly Hoffer is a poet and book artist.
Her poetry was recognized as a finalist for the National Poetry Series in both 2020 and 2021. She has taught literature and creative writing classes at Cornell University, Victoria University, and the University of Iowa. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and she is currently a doctoral candidate in Literatures in English at Cornell University.
UNDERSHORE is her first book of poems.