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Chris Hoffman – ecopsychology, poetry, sustainability
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Cairns

“The kind of joy bears would want if they were human”

– Evan Hodkins, Director of the School of Alchemy

Reviews

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Reviews

Every page of Cairns conveys the sacral, as revealed by the indwelling spirit of deserts, glacial fjords, kittiwakes, bald eagles, bears, and pine forests. Chris Hoffman’s vision is prayerful but not preachy.  His voice, reverential but never pretentious. If Cairns is anything to go by, one would be pleased to meet him.
Reg Saner, poet and essayist, author of So This is the Map, The Four-Cornered Falcon, etc. and winner of the Colorado Book Award

How did he ever get that much light into this small book?  Cairns is the kind of joy bears would want if they were human.
– Evan Hodkins, Director of the School of Alchemy

I take this book on the road with me, read the poems around sunrise and sunset, and feel both comforted and refreshed as I wander into wild places.
– Stephen R. Jones, author of The Last Prairie, and Peterson Field Guide to the North American Prairie

Chris Hoffman’s thoughts and imagery can evoke a myriad of life’s experiences in a few rich, moving lines. This book is a journey you will be delighted to share.
– Francesca Ciancimino Howell, PhD, author of Food, Festival and Religion: Materiality and place in Italy, London and NY: Bloomsbury Academic Publishing (forthcoming)

Chris Hoffman's poems capture both the spiritual essence and day-to-day nitty gritty of life in the canyons.  Whether on raft or by foot, countless images emblazon light and shadow, sharply etched skylines and miniscule details, on our consciousness.  His words and beautifully sculpted lines reverberate with passion and the intensity of his love for this magical place and space.
– Rick Medrick, E.D., Executive Director, Outdoor Leadership Training Seminars and Breaking Through Adventures

A priest of desert and river, Chris Hoffman paints rich and satisfying imagery with his reverent pen.
– Cass Adams, editor of The Soul Unearthed: Celebrating Wildness and Personal Renewal Through Nature

Colorado Mountain ClubCompass
May, 2008
Book Review: Cairns — contributed by Rick Casey
Cairns is a delightful book of poetry about landscapes of the West, family, love and finding meaning in life in contemporary society based on a deep connection to the Earth. The author is Chris Hoffman. It seems an appropriate book to review in the Compass because it deals so closely with Nature, in settings that will be familiar to many: raft trips through the Canyonlands, backpacking in the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness, communing with animal spirits and ghosts of the Anasazi, or sea kayaking. Arresting phrases capture natural images so naturally you know the author has deeply experienced them: “O to go boyant on the liquid muscle of the sea...” or, experiencing the desert’s vastness: ‘Go there / For the nothing that is there.”  Just as many of us find refuge and rejuvenation through our outdoor activities, reading through these poems was similarly healing and strengthening. Most are written in loose, free-form structure, easily followed, but there are few tightly rhymed, a few prose paragraphs, a few amusements thrown in, a few haiku-like. Altogether, it was quite enjoyable to find a contemporary author finding deep satisfaction from Nature and a reverence for life, intuitively seeking meaning and stability in these modern times, and conveying it so well.

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Sample Poems

The first flakes of winter snow--
Ah--
the skeletons of tears.

Go to the Holy Desert

Go to the holy desert
at night and look at the sky,
where the stars extend beyond forgetting
in the emptying blackness deep and high.
They shine as clear as seeds of music
in the stillness of a prayer;
so many, they’ll turn till numbering’s numb
round the tail of the northern bear.
They accept everything that ever has been,
including your life.  Lying there,
your body resolves to leather and bone,
and then to a grain of sand
on a shore between two mysterious oceans
where outward and inward expand.
Then secret beings crossing out and in
may brush you with their wings
and stir you to resonance with each moment
like a harp’s quivering strings.
Go to the holy desert
at night and look at the sky,
where the twin cliffs above you open like eyelids
and you are the pupil of the infinite eye.


The Man and the Woman

The man is a cottage
and the woman is a tree beside the door.
The man is a rock in a boulder field
and the woman is snow, melting.

He worships beauty
and wants to make all good things fruitful.
She is the daughter of Spoon Woman.
Her lap is fragrant and soft as tundra.

Spoon Woman lives forever,
growing younger and older, older and younger.
He is learning to dig a pit,
and pour blood into it, and weep.

When Spoon Woman is older
her face is like bark
and her hair is where the river has eaten its bank away
leaving matted and tangled roots.

When Spoon Woman is younger
she is vanilla
and a newly washed cotton nightgown,
sweet from drying in the sun.

He is the son of the One Who Starts Things Up.
Jumped by the Grizzly Man,
meeting the Dream Man,
he carves stone arrowheads
and makes pictures in the sand.

Talk to the stars now.
She says: Mother, Grandmother.
He says: Father, Grandfather.

When the man and the woman meet,
each one asks:
“What sound is this person today?”

Today he is the song of the barn swallow
and she is soft rain weaving a sash on the pond.
Tonight
he is the sound of a coyote’s paw digging in snow,
she the sound of an acorn sprout
pushing through the damp earth.

In their bed
the two of them sleep
curled about each other.
And that spiral
winds through the whole world.


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